Breast Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
The precise causes of breast cancer remain unclear. However, many advances have been made in understanding what happens at the cellular level that results in breast cancer. Generally, breast cancer can occur when there are errors in cell production. A tumor may result when cells do not die after they have become damaged and/or old. Or, cells may begin rapidly producing superfluous new cells. In both cases, cell buildup may cause a tumor to form. However, the precise cause of the errors is uncertain.
Breast cancer also has been linked to specific risk factors, which are not the same as breast cancer causes. Rather, a risk factor is anything that increases the chances of an individual getting the disease. For breast cancer, being female is a main risk factor, but some others include:
- Medical history – Those who have previously had breast cancer are at an elevated risk of developing it again.
- Family history – Those who have had a family member diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher risk of getting the disease.
- Age – A person’s risk of getting breast cancer increases with age; women over 60 are more likely to be diagnosed, on average.
- Alcohol use – Women who drink excessively are at an elevated risk for getting breast cancer.
- Menstrual history – Starting menstruation at an early age—before 12 years old—could mean that a woman has a higher chance of developing breast cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – Using HRT to ease menopausal symptoms can increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer.
- Obesity – Having a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 puts a person more at risk for breast cancer because fat cells make estrogen, which can influence certain types of breast cancers to grow.
- Radiation exposure – Exposure to radiation, particularly radiation treatments of the chest, can increase the risk of breast cancer.
For patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, Tampa General Hospital provides treatment from a multidisciplinary team that utilizes leading-edge technologies. The treatment plans we create are highly personalized and factor in each patient’s breast cancer causes, unique condition and circumstances to provide the greatest likelihood for a positive outcome. To learn more or schedule an appointment, please call 813-844-7585.