Question: What does the phrase "risk factor" mean in terms of breast cancer?
Answer: A risk factor for breast cancer is something, either in a patient's medical history or a physical exam finding, that increases the likelihood that a patient would eventually develop breast cancer. Many of these risk factors relate to lifestyle events for women. For example, the age at which menstrual period started are related to breast cancer. Earlier age onset of menstrual periods, before the age of 12, increases risk. Late age at first birth of a child born alive with late being after the age of 30 increases the risk.
Other factors like family history, particularly in first-degree relatives, that is a mother, a sister or a daughter having breast cancer, can increase risk. And having benign breast conditions that are found on biopsies of the breast that are not cancer can lead to an increased risk in later life of developing breast cancer.
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