MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer, and the second most deadly kind of cancer found in women.
Nearly one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
By answering just a few simple questions, you could have a better idea of whether you are at risk for future cancer diagnosis.
Ashley Daley is a certified genetic counselor with the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute.
“For 90 percent of women we call it multi-factorial, meaning it’s complicated,” Daley said. “It’s an accumulation of risk over a lifetime.”
How do you know if you’re at risk of developing the disease? A simple online quiz could lead you in the right direction.
It includes questions like:
The information is collected and serves as a tool to “assess your breast cancer risk.”
Katie Thiede is CEO of Bright Pink, which powers the Assess Your Risk tool.
“An example of that would be … one serving of alcohol a day that can increase your risk. If you’re not exercising five times a week … if you’re not getting enough vitamin D … there are a lot of things that women at average risk can do,” Thiede said.
Doctors say those are all known risk factors, but rarely are they all considered in one sitting. The test helps you understand your health outlook.
“We will flag which of the risk factors you indicated that you might want to take a next step and you might want to consider,” Thiede said.
Daley says only 10 percent of women who are diagnosed develop breast cancer because of a genetic mutation or a hereditary cancer.
“I think there are people who take that quiz and get halfway through and they think, ‘I don’t know,’ and they get on the phone and start calling their relatives,” Daley said.
What should women in their 30s be thinking about?
“In your 30s, talk to your doctor about if any additional care is needed,” Daley said.
Dr. Ann Callahan is also a surgical oncologist with the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute-Piper Breast Center.
“What we do have is women coming in and saying, ‘How can we have this diagnosis? It’s not in my family history,'” Callahan said.
That is why Dr. Callahan says a quiz like this can be a good starting point.
“I think for the average woman who doesn’t have a family history, it’s good to pay attention to those things,” Callahan said.
She said family history is just one factor in educating yourself about your breast health.
“So what we really have to do about education is get people aware. Living with the belief that your family history is the only thing that will make you have breast cancer, might make you miss a breast cancer that’s early that could be cured,” Callahan said.
The quiz can be found the Assess Your Risk site.