Non-Cancerous Breast Conditions

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For women at increased breast cancer risk

Women with some of non-cancerous breast conditions may be at increased risk for breast cancer. But it’s important to understand what this increase in risk really means.

According to one study of women living in the Midwest (a mainly white population), here’s an example of what increased risk looks like:

    About 5 of 100 women who do not have any benign breast conditions would be expected to develop breast cancer within the next 15 years.

    Among women with a benign condition that increases risk 1½ to 2 times, about 7 to 10 out of 100 might be expected to develop breast cancer in the next 15 years.

    Among women with atypical hyperplasia (ductal or lobular), whose risk is 3½ to 5 times normal, about 18 to 25 women out of 100 would be expected to develop breast cancer within 15 years.

It’s also very important to keep in mind that many other factors can affect a woman’s risk. Her age, race/ethnicity, body weight, family history, her menstrual and pregnancy history, and other factors all affect her risk. (For more information, see the section “What are the risk factors for breast cancer?” in our document Breast Cancer.) These factors must be taken into account when trying to determine a woman’s actual risk of breast cancer.

If you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer, talk with your doctor about whether you should have breast MRI along with your screening mammograms and whether you should start screening at an earlier age. You may also want to discuss steps you could take that might lower your risk of breast cancer, such as taking certain medicines. Our document Medicines to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk talks more about this option.

Last Medical Review: 03/16/2015
Last Revised: 06/10/2015