How likely is it that someone will get breast cancer?

Whether or not a woman gets breast cancer depends on a lot of different things. Most women don’t only start thinking about breast cancer when they turn 50.

Breast Cancer
Photo by Anna Tarazevich on

Some people don’t use certain deodorants because they are said to have cancer-causing chemicals in them Some women have a faulty gene that increases their chances of developing breast cancer.

Women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer may be carriers of an altered gene that can trigger these types of cancer.

Which genes play a role in breast cancer?

According to a study by the University Hospital in Münster, a number of genes can increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

The genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 pose the biggest threat. Women with this genetic change have a 50–80% chance of getting breast cancer at some point in their lives. For comparison: In a woman without a genetic predisposition, it is twelve percent.

When does it make sense to have this risk clarified by a genetic test?

For example, if a patient is very young—under 36—or if the same tumours have been found in more than one family,

Then it’s important to have a full consultation. It’s important to know about the genetic risk because it’s inherited, which means that a mother can pass on the genetic defect to her daughter. Men can also carry the breast cancer gene, pass it on to their children, and, in rare cases, get sick from it.

A genetic test at a registered human geneticist or at a specialised centre provides certainty about whether a woman has breast or ovarian cancer. This includes an ultrasound twice a year, an annual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and a mammogram every one to two years after the age of 40.

What influence do the hormones have?

A cancer called mammary carcinoma starts in the mammary gland and can spread into the deep breast tissue. The density of the breast tissue can also have an effect, but not so much on the chance of getting the disease as on when it is found. When the breast density is high, it’s hard to tell the difference between the white glandular tissue and the white tumour.

Over the course of a lifetime, the breasts change and gain more fat. Since X-rays can pass through this, changes are easier to spot. If a woman has a lot of breast tissue, a mammogram might not find a tumour until it has already spread. Because of this, an ultrasound is often part of the exam so that any problems can be found early on.

Hormones are important for the growth of breast cancer. On the other hand, pregnancy and breastfeeding bring it down. So far, there has been no evidence that hormonal contraception, like the birth control pill, increases the risk of getting breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

The increased breast cancer risk associated with taking hormone replacement therapy for the treatment of hot flashes during menopause has been proven. The risk increases the longer and higher the dose of hormones a woman takes. The lowest possible dose over a maximum of five years is recommended.

Hormone therapy can increase the risk of developing breast cancer by a factor of about 1.2 to 1.4 if you take it for five years. Around 12 out of 1,000 women between the ages of 50 and 55 will fall ill without hormone therapy.

Since breast cancer is often caused by hormones, hormones could speed up its growth. But there isn’t any scientific proof of this. “We carefully think about when to use hormone replacement therapy based on this information. It helps a lot with severe menopausal symptoms, but it’s very important to check your breasts often while you’re getting treatment.



4th Professional Medical Student. Karachi Medical and Dental College.

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