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Breast Cancer: What is my risk?

It’s important to talk with your doctor about your individual risk factors for developing breast cancer. Women should be familiar with their breasts and promptly report changes to their healthcare provider.

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting a disease. Having one or more of the following risk factors does not mean that a person will get breast cancer. However, not having any of these risk factors doesn’t mean that a person will not get breast cancer.

Risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Increased age
  • Menstruating or menopause at an early age
  • Having a first child at age 30 or never having given birth
  • A personal history of breast cancer
  • A mother or sister diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Previous radiation therapy to the breast/chest for pediatric cancer
  • Dense breast tissue identified through mammograms
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Gene mutations in your family, such as BRCA 1 or 2
  • Obesity after menopause
  • Lack of physical activity 


Suggested recommendations for breast examinations include:
Women age 20 - 39
  • Do a periodic breast self-exam.  
  • Have a Clinical Breast Exam by a healthcare professional every 1-3 years.
 Women age 40 and older
  • Do a periodic breast self-exam.  
  • Have a yearly mammogram.  
  • Have a yearly Clinical Breast Exam by a healthcare professional near the time of the mammogram.
  • Know your family history

Breast Cancer Prevention Begins with Awareness
Breast cancer awareness begins with emphasis on prevention and early detection. It is important to be aware of changes in your breast tissue and also have an exam done yearly by a healthcare professional. These exams help identify changes that have occurred in the breast tissue. If you recognize any changes in how your breasts look or feel, it is important to talk with your doctor, discuss these changes and decide about appropriate follow-up care.

Heredity sometimes plays a role in who will develop breast cancer. For your peace of mind, the Akron General Reflections Breast Health Center offers a High Risk Clinic for women at elevated risk.  For more information, call 330-344 BRST (2778).

Akron General Reflections Breast Health Centers offers six mammography screening locations in Akron, Fairlawn, Green, Lodi, Stow and Tallmadge.

Learn more:
What is Breast Cancer
Signs & Symptoms of Breast Cancer


Recent News about Screening Recommendations
Spread the word, "mammography works!" 

The controversial mammography recommendations issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) had negative affects. Women canceled their appointments believing mammograms were not needed. Healthcare providers in our community and across the country still recommend yearly mammograms for women 40 years or older.

We must educate and spread the message that mammography works. Akron General follows the recommendations of the American Cancer Society as does the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Radiology.

Before canceling your appointment or letting someone you love cancel, consider the following:

  1. Mammography has reduced the breast cancer death rate in the United States by 30% since 1990.   
  2. One invasive cancer is found for every 556 mammograms performed in women in their 40s.  
  3. Having a mammogram only every other year in women 50 to 74 would miss 19% to 33% of cancers that could be detected by annual screenings.  
  4. Delaying screenings until age 50 would sacrifice 33 years of life per 1,000 women screened that could have been saved if screening had begun at age 40.  
  5. 85% of abnormal mammograms require only additional images to clarify whether cancer is present. Only 2% of women who get screening mammograms require a biopsy.

Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, said in a statement, "Mammograms have always been an important life-saving tool in the fight against breast cancer, and they still are today. Keep doing what you have been doing for years- talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you." For further information or to ask questions call the Cancer Care Coordinator at 344-HOPE (4673).

Akron General Medical Center • 1 Akron General Avenue (Formerly 400 Wabash Avenue) • Akron, OH 44307 • 330-344-6000 • 1-800-221-4601    © 2014 Akron General Health System
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