age and breast cancer risk
When will i be at the highest risk?
by Jamal Ross
The lifetime risk of developing breast cancer in the United States is about 12%. In other words, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. Breast cancer risk increases with age. Furthermore, the risk of breast cancer in each age group is expressed as a percentage over 10 years. Let’s take a look at this risk for each age group.
Before the age of 30, breast cancer is rare. Yet, it is possible for younger woman to develop breast cancer. In women in the United State who are in their 20s, there is a 0.06% chance of developing breast cancer over 10 years. In a woman’s 30s, there is a 0.4% chance of developing breast cancer over this period of time as well. Notwithstanding, it remains importance to know your family history and risk factors that may place you at increased risk for breast cancer at a younger age.
After the age of 40 breast cancer becomes more frequent and peaks in the 7th decade of life. Particularly in a woman’s 40s, there is a 1.5% chance of developing breast cancer over the next 10 years. Afterwards, in the 5th decade of there is a 2.4% chance of developing breast cancer over the same period of time. The risks of breast cancer are highest in a woman’s 60s and 70s at 3.6% and 3.8% respectively over a 10-year period. In the 8th decade of life, the risk decreases slightly to 3.0%.
Although the risk of breast cancer various across age groups, each individual’s risk is personalized and based on family history as well as other factors that may increase risk, such chest radiation for treatment of other cancers. Also, even in age groups were breast cancer is rare, it is important to remain vigilant about assessing risk and speaking with your doctor about lumps or other abnormalities you may find. Furthermore, although the risk of breast cancer associated with each decade of life seems low, it is important to realize that the lifetime risk, as a woman progresses through each decade of life, is 12%, which is significant.
Breast Cancer Series
1. Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2018. CA Cancer J Clin. 2018 Jan;68(1):7-30. doi: 10.3322/caac.21442. Epub 2018 Jan 4. PMID: 29313949.