Ask the Doctor
February 22, 2011
What can increase my risk of breast cancer?

Dear Doc,

What can increase my risk of getting breast cancer?


Dear Maureen,

It is important to note that multiple factors are involved in the risk of developing any cancer. There is no rule that says that because you have the risk you will get cancer.{{more}} The reason for this is because each risk factor interplays with other situations. It is like the understanding that a very fragile vase will not break if it does not fall.

The first risk factor that must be realized is the family history. We are linked with our family by genetics (by blood) and possibly by association. By genetics we consider inherited traits that increase the risk significantly that someone will develop a cancer. These traits are called genetic markers and persons can be tested to see if they possess them. The next is association. This relates to the fact that despite being genetically linked, a family that lives together will be exposed to some of the same environmental factors that increase the risk of cancer and that is even if there is no genetic link.

Women who have had menstruation (periods) from an early age, late menopause, had no children, on HRT and first pregnancy after age thirty.

If you are in any of these categories, you have an increased risk of breast cancer, but it does not mean you will develop breast cancer. What is important is that you should be extra vigilant in your examinations.


SVG Cancer Society,

P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.


Phone: 526-7036