Risk Factors for Early Breast Cancer

Introduction to Early Onset Breast Cancer and Risk Factors

Nearly one in 11 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer is younger than 45. Learn about the risk factors for early onset breast cancer and find out what to do if you think you may be at risk.

Some risk factors put women at a higher risk for getting breast cancer at a young age. If you are younger than 45, you may have a higher risk for breast cancer if—

  • You have close relatives who were diagnosed with breast cancer before age 45, especially if more than one relative was diagnosed or if a male relative had breast cancer.
  • You or a close relative were diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age.
  • You have changes in certain breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2), or have close relatives with these changes, but have not been tested yourself.
  • You have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
  • You received radiation therapy to the breast or chest during childhood or early adulthood.
  • You have had breast cancer or certain other breast health problems, such as lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia, or atypical lobular hyperplasia.
  • You have been told that you have dense breasts on a mammogram.

Do any of these characteristics describe you? If so, talk to your doctor about your family history and other risk factors you might have.