From young adulthood, women worry about their risk of developing breast cancer; we understand that just by being female, women are at risk. Most know the statistic, “1 in 8,” or 12% of women will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. What the medical community also knows is that many women are actually at much higher risk of developing breast cancer than the 12% risk of the general population – and they don’t know it.
Conversely, other women are at a substantially lower risk of developing breast cancer than the general population. For these women, more focus on other efforts pertinent to their individualized risk profile – such as diabetes and heart disease prevention – might be more appropriate than breast cancer detection efforts.
Research also continues to shed light on specific factors that impact an individual woman’s risk for breast cancer, including diet, body weight, alcohol intake, puberty, age at first birth, family history and breast density. And now, there are newer versions of breast cancer risk assessment models that take these factors into consideration. Clinicians can use these breast cancer risk assessment tools to determine an individual woman’s risk of breast cancer and compare that risk to the average risk of breast cancer for a woman the same age in the population. Ms.Medicine practices offer personalized Breast Cancer Risk Assessments using evidence-based tools to help women understand their individual risk – an important factor in developing a personalized wellness plan.
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer; the first step is understanding your own individual risk.