Breast cancer prevention is a highly visible effort in the United States – and for good reason; in 2013 alone, it is estimated that 232,340 women will develop new cases of invasive breast cancer and 39,620 women will die from this disease. Notably, rates of breast cancer after pregnancy are lower than those for women who have not had children or who had them later in life.
According to the American Cancer Society, while we do not yet know the specific cause of breast cancer, we do know that there is a long list of risk factors, including those that we can and cannot change. Here, we will reveal the facts about breast cancer after pregnancy.
Breast Cancer After Pregnancy: Risk Factors
We cannot change our age, race, or family history – all factors that affect your risk level. Risk increases as women get older – about 66 percent of women with invasive breast cancer are 55 or older when the cancer is discovered. Caucasian women are slightly more likely to get breast cancer than African-American women.
Breast cancer risk is higher among women who have close relatives who have previously had the disease – in fact, having a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer doubles a woman’s risk. The risk of breast cancer after pregnancy is slightly lower – particularly if you have your first child before the age of 30.
Cancer occurs when certain changes in DNA cause changes in otherwise normal breast tissue. Some DNA changes run in families, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 tumor suppressor genes. These genes prevent cancer from forming, but when they are changed, they no longer cause cells to die at the right time, increasing the risk for cancer to develop.