About Hollings Cancer Center

Comprehensive breast care program

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Are You at Increased Risk for Developing Breast Cancer?

The cause(s) of breast cancer is not yet fully understood. Risk factors are conditions that are known to increase a person’s chance of developing cancer. Just having these conditions does not mean you will necessarily develop cancer. Additionally, cancer can form in people without any identifiable risk factors. Risk factors can be controllable (i.e. smoking) and uncontrollable (i.e. family history). Knowing your risk factors can help you to be aware of your risk and guide lifestyle and health care choices. 

Factors that may increase your risk for breast cancer:

  • Older Age – 80% of breast cancer cases occur in women over 50 years of age
  • Female gender – less than 1% of breast cancer cases occur in men
  • Personal history of breast and ovarian cancer
  • Family History of Cancer – breast (especially males or age <40) and/or other specific cancers (ovarian, prostate, skin, prostate, colon, thyroid, pancreas)
  • Atypical hyperplasia or LCIS on previous breast biopsy
  • Inherited genetic mutations – people who carry certain gene variants are at higher risk for developing breast cancer (i.e. BRCA1, BRCA2)
  • Estrogen Exposure
    • Early menstruation – before age 12
    • Late menopause – after age 55
    • Never pregnant
    • Late pregnancy – after age 30
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol Consumption – drinking more than 1-2 drinks a day
  • Radiation – especially during younger years
  • High breast density on mammogram
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry

To request an appointment with the MUSC High Risk Breast Evaluation Program, call 843-792-1414.


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