Breast cancer. Risk factors

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so we decided to share with you a sequence of articles about this topic. Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer and the most common cause of death among women. It is a global public health problem with consequences also on socio economic level If numbers increase in the same manner as in the present, it is estimated that by 2050 there will be 3.2 new million cases per year.

Breast cancer is a heterogeneous group of tumors. This heterogeneity (non-uniformity) is caused by several reasons. The cancer can affect various components of the breast, such as the milk ducts, milk lobules or the tissue in between. The cancer develops differently among patients, therefore the treatment also varies.

There are several types of breast cancer depending on the affected parts of the breast:

- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): it develops inside of milk ducts

- Invasive or infiltrating breast cancer: cancer cells spread outside the ducts and lobules

- Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC): the cancer grows inside the milk ducts and spreads around the fatty tissue; it is the most common type of breast cancer and it is responsible for 80% of all breast cancers

- Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC): the cancer grows inside the milk lobules and spreads around the lobules as well; it is the second most common type of breast cancer

- Metastatic breast cancer: the most advanced stage of breast cancer that has spread to other organs


Breast cancer facts

  • It impacts over 2 million women every year

  • 140/184 countries have breast cancer as the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women

  • patients with breast cancer have more chances of survival as breast tissue is not an essential organ for survival

  • it has a higher prevalence in developed countries than in developing ones, but the mortality rate is the same

  • in developing countries, mortality is higher in relation to the prevalence, and one explanation is the socio economic context; in poorer countries there are lower cancer screening rates and more women without health insurance

  • it is expected that in the future, the prevalence of breast cancer will rise in developing countries as the people there are starting to adopt a more Western lifestyle (less physical activity, late childbearing)

  • males can have breast cancer as well, but they have a lower risk and make up for less than 1% of all breast cancer patients

Risk factors

Up to 85 % of cancers do not develop because of family history, but due to a gene modification because of lifestyle factors and age.

1. Biological sex

  • By just being a woman the risk