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Breast Cancer: Prevention, Genetics, Causes

Risk factors for breast cancer include older age, certain inherited genetic alterations, hormone therapy, having radiation therapy to the chest, drinking alcohol, and being obese. It may be possible to decrease the risk of breast cancer by getting exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. More information is available through the links on this page.

On this page:

Prevention

  • Breast Cancer Prevention (PDQ®)
    [ patient ] [ health professional ]
    Expert-reviewed information summary about factors that may increase the risk of developing breast cancer and about research aimed at the prevention of this disease.
  • The Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR): Questions and Answers

    STAR is a clinical trial designed to see how the drug raloxifene compares with the drug tamoxifen in reducing the incidence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at an increased risk of developing the disease.

  • Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer

    A fact sheet that describes hormone therapy (including antiestrogens, LH-RH agonists, aromatase inhibitors, and SERMs) and its role in preventing and treating breast cancer. Includes information about possible side effects.

  • Surgery to Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer

    A fact sheet that describes mastectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy, two prophylactic surgeries that may be performed to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women at very high risk; the situations in which they may be considered; and nonsurgical options.

Clinical Trials

  • Find Clinical Trials to Prevent Breast Cancer

    Check for breast cancer prevention trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials now accepting patients. The list of clinical trials can be refined by location and other features.

Research Findings

Risk Assessment

Causes and Risk Factors

  • Breast Cancer Risk in American Women

    A fact sheet that provides statistics about a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer and information about breast cancer risk factors.

  • Alcohol and Cancer Risk

    A fact sheet that summarizes the evidence linking alcohol consumption to the risk of various cancers. Includes information about factors that affect the risk of alcohol-associated cancers, such as a person’s genes and tobacco use.

  • Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Cancer

    A fact sheet about the results of research on menopausal hormone therapy. Includes information about the effect of menopausal hormone therapy on the body. Also outlines the benefits and risks of using menopausal hormones.

  • Oral Contraceptives and Cancer Risk

    A fact sheet about research on the association of oral contraceptive use with risk of various cancers.

  • Abortion, Miscarriage, and Breast Cancer Risk

    A fact sheet that discusses research on abortion, miscarriage, and a woman's chances of developing breast cancer later in life.

  • Reproductive History and Breast Cancer Risk

    A fact sheet that describes what is known about the relationship between pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, and the risk of breast cancer. It also briefly describes what is known about reproductive history and the risk of other cancer types.

  • Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer

    Information about an NCI Workshop convened February 24-26, 2003, to provide an integrated scientific assessment of the association between reproductive events and the risk of breast cancer.

  • Antiperspirants/Deodorants and Breast Cancer

    A fact sheet describing studies on whether there is a link between underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and breast cancer.

Genetics

  • Genetics of Breast and Gynecologic Cancers (PDQ®)
    [ health professional ]
    Expert-reviewed information summary about the genetics of breast and gynecologic cancers, including information about specific genes and family cancer syndromes. The summary also contains information about interventions that may influence the risk of developing breast and gynecologic cancers in individuals who may be genetically susceptible to these diseases. Psychosocial issues associated with genetic testing are also discussed.
  • BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing

    A fact sheet about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, how BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations (changes) affect a person's risk of cancer, genetic testing for cancer risk, interpreting test results, and the benefits and risks of genetic testing.

  • Cancer Genetics Services Directory

    Directory of professionals who provide services related to cancer genetic risk assessment, counseling, and testing.

Additional Resources