Estimating Breast Cancer Risk: Questions and Answers
1. Who develops breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer in American women. An estimated 213,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. The risk of breast cancer increases as women get older. Over the years, researchers have identified certain characteristics, usually called risk factors, which influence a woman's chance of getting the disease. Still, many women who develop breast cancer have no known risk factors other than growing older, and many women with known risk factors do not develop breast cancer.
2. What is the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool?
The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool is a computer program that was developed by scientists at the National Cancer Institute and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) to assist health care providers in discussing breast cancer risk with their female patients. The tool allows a health professional to project a woman's individual estimate of breast cancer risk over a 5-year period of time and over her lifetime and compares the woman's risk calculation with the average risk for a woman of the same age. The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool can be found at: http://www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool.
3. What are the risk factors used to estimate breast cancer risk in the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool?
The risk factors included in the tool are:
Relative Risk of Developing Breast Cancer*
For women with 0 or 1 affected relative, risks increase with age at first live birth. For women with 2 or more first degree relatives, risks decrease with age at first live birth.
* Adapted from Table 1, Gail MH, Brinton LA, Byar DP, Corle DK, Green SB, Shairer C, Mulvihill JJ: Projecting individualized probabilities of developing breast cancer for white females who are being examined annually. J Natl Cancer Inst 81(24):1879-86, 1989. [PubMed Abstract]
Viewers share their comments
Estimating Breast Cancer Risk - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with breast cancer.
Estimating Breast Cancer Risk - Personal Risks Question: After using the tool, what is your breast cancer risk? Will it change your lifestyle or frequency of health exams?
Estimating Breast Cancer Risk - Ways to Decrease Question: Have you been involved in any breast cancer prevention studies? If so, please share your experience.
Estimating Breast Cancer Risk - Screenings Question: What types of screenings, mammograms, or ultrasounds do you get to prevent breast cancer?