What else should I think about before I make my decision?

My risk of breast cancer.

Risk factors are conditions that make women more likely to get breast cancer. 5,6


Well established and important risk factors for getting breast cancer are:

•  Getting older

•  Having had breast cancer (invasive or DCIS)

• Having a family history of breast cancer (especially several relatives on the same side of the family diagnosed before menopause)

• A previous surgical breast biopsy which found abnormal breast cells (atypical hyperplasia)


Other risk factors which increase breast cancer risk slightly are:

•  Never having had children

•  First child after the age of 30

•  Early age of first period (less than 12 years old)

•  Currently taking the oral contraceptive pill or taking hormone replacement therapy for several years or more. The risk goes back down after you stop taking these medicines

•  Putting on  a lot of weight in adulthood, especially after menopause

•  Drinking more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol per day


The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk of developing breast cancer. The higher your risk of breast cancer, the more likely you are to benefit from regular screening.


If you are concerned about your personal risk of breast cancer, you can use the Breast Cancer Risk Calculator. Another similar risk calculator can be found at National Cancer Institute. More information on risk factors is also available from the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre.


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