Most breast cancers are found in women 50 years of age or older, but breast cancer also affects young women. About 11 percent of all new breast cancer cases in the U.S. are found in women younger than 45 years of age.
If you are under the age of 45, you may have a higher risk if:
- You have close relatives who were diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer (particularly at age 45 or younger).
- You have changes in certain breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2).
- You were treated with radiation therapy to your breast or chest as a child or young adult.
- You have had breast cancer or other breast health problems.
If you are at higher risk, talk to your doctor about genetic testing, getting mammograms earlier or more often and medicines or surgeries that can lower your risk.
You can also reduce your risk of breast cancer by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Exercising regularly (at least four hours a week).
- Avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption (no more than one drink per day).
- Avoiding exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer (carcinogens)
- Reducing exposure to radiation during medical tests such as mammograms, X-rays, CT scans and PET scans.
- Talking to your doctor about risks associated with hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills).
- Breastfeeding your babies, if possible.
- Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel. If you notice a change in the size or shape of your breast, feel pain in your breast, have nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood) or other symptoms, talk to a doctor right away. How to Perform a Breast Self-Exam.
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