You can’t change your family history. But you can modify certain traits to lower your chances of developing breast cancer.
This article was updated October 17, 2022.
More than 290,000 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. It's the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women. While many more people are surviving breast cancer, nearly 44,000 people die from the disease each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Of these cancers, about 15 percent have a strong hereditary component, which is why it's important to know your family history and talk to your doctor about genetic counseling if a close relative had breast or ovarian cancer.
Whether you have a genetic predisposition for breast cancer, there are changes anyone can make to reduce risk of the disease.
"There are risk factors that you can control, and there are risk factors you cannot control," says Sofia Merajver, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risk and Evaluation Program at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center. "You cannot modify your family history, but there are lifestyle factors you can modify — some more easily than others."
Visit the Rogel Cancer Center breast cancer web pages to learn about diagnosis, treatment options and how to make an appointment.
Explore a variety of healthcare news & stories by visiting the Health Lab home page for more articles.
Want top health & research news weekly? Sign up for Health Lab’s newsletters today!