Risk Factors

Breast Cancer



Cancer féminin le plus fréquent, il touche une femme sur huit. Une prise en charge globale et pluridisciplinaire est la clé de son traitement.

Some women are more likely to have breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer than others. It is important to identify women who are particularly at risk in order to offer suitable check-ups.

Two genes have so far been identified as genes which make women more predisposed to breast cancer: BRCA1 and BRCA2, located respectively on chromosomes 17 and 13.

These mutations may be transmitted by either parent and greatly increase the risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer one day.

The famous actress Angelina Jolie, whose mother and aunt died of the disease, is also a carrier of this mutation. This is why she chose to undergo preventive ablation (removal) of the breasts and ovaries.

The most difficult task is to identify patients who carry the mutation. Significant history of breast cancer in the family can certainly suggest that there is a risk of hereditary cancer. But this is not always the case. Similarly, the fact that no family member has been affected by breast cancer so far does not mean that someone does not carry the mutation (which may have been transmitted by the father, for example).

Genetic counselling in oncology makes it possible to identify and prevent hereditary cancer. In order to trace your cancer history, your doctor may recommend that genetic tests are carried out.

There are several criteria that make it advisable to make an appointment for a genetic consultation:

1. Personal criteria :

  • Breast cancer before the age of 36
  • Medullary breast cancer, regardless of age at the time of the diagnosis
  • Ovarian cancer before the age of 70
  • Men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer

2. Family-related criteria:

  • At least three cases of breast cancer within the close family (first or second degree
  • Two cases of breast cancer within the close family (first or second degree) that is passed on by men
  • Breast cancer diagnosed in a woman and at least one more relative diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The French National Authority for Health (La Haute Autorité de Santé) has recently issued a list of possible environmental risk factors that may be linked to cancer:

1. Obesity, especially after the menopause. Many types of breast cancer are sensitive to the oestrogen hormone, but the problem is that the fatty tissue produces small amounts of oestrogen. Therefore, if someone has a lot of fatty tissues, the risk of developing breast cancer can be higher.

2. Hormonal contraception. Oral contraceptives containing oestrogen and progesterone slightly increase the risk of breast cancer, especially in women who take them long-term (for over 10 years). However, the risk does decrease upon stopping taking contraceptives.

3. Hormone replacement therapy during menopause. Several studies have shown that the prolonged use of HRT, particularly if it contains both oestrogen and progesterone at the same time, slightly increases the risk of developing breast cancer. In this case, the risk also appears to decline after a few years of stopping the medication.

4. Pregnancies later in life or that do not reach full-term. Pregnancy temporarily stops the mammary cells from being exposed to oestrogen and reduces a woman’s number of menstrual cycles. If a woman falls pregnant before the age of 20, it slightly reduces the risk of developing breast cancer, while having her first child after 30, or not having a child at all, increases the risk.

5. Alcohol consumption. Even a low alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing breast cancer and the risk increases with the amount consumed. Alcohol is actually suspected to increase the production of oestrogen. In addition, it reduces the presence of certain nutrients such as vitamin A, B and C that normally have the effect of protecting against cell damage.

6. Meat and fat consumption also seems to increase the risk slightly.

7. Type 2 diabetes. It not only increases the risk of breast cancer, but also increases the risk of dying from breast cancer.

This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site.