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Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Risk Assessment: Average vs Increased Risk

Posted: October 18, 2023


Risk is your chance of developing breast cancer. Everyone has some risk for developing breast cancer, however some will be at an increased risk based on several factors, including but not limited to age, race/ethnicity, personal and family history of cancer, genetics, and reproductive history. A Breast Cancer Risk Assessment can help determine if you are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer in your lifetime and will categorize you as “average risk” or “increased risk” for developing breast cancer.

Average Risk means that you have no known family history or other risk factors that suggests you are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. It is recommended that you have an annual mammogram starting at age 40.

  • 25 to 39 years of age – See a qualified health care provider for a breast cancer risk assessment to determine you are at average risk. See your health care provider for a breast exam every 1-3 years.
  • 40 years of age and over – See a health care provider every year for a breast exam. Also, have an annual screening mammogram.

You are considered to be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer if:

  • Lifetime breast cancer risk of 20% or greater, largely due to family history, based on Tyrer-Cuzick risk calculator
  • Genetic predisposition, a known family history of a hereditary gene mutation increasing risk of breast cancer, or family history that suggests genetic predisposition to breast, ovarian, or pancreatic cancers
  • Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), lobular carcinoma in situ or atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH)
  • Previous chest radiation therapy (RT) between 10 and 30 years of age
  • Elevated 5-year risk of invasive breast cancer as calculated by the Gail model

Those found to be at an increased risk are encouraged to see their healthcare provider every 6-12 months, have annual screening mammograms as early as age 30, and annual breast MRI as early as age 25.

If you have a personal and/or family history of cancer and are interested in a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment, please call Cancer Care Northwest at (509) 228-1000 to schedule an appointment.