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We don’t completely understand what causes DCIS. It’s likely to be a result of multiple factors.
Things that can increase your risk of developing a disease are called risk factors. There are a number of risk factors that may slightly increase a woman’s risk of getting DCIS or breast cancer. However, women with no risk factors can develop DCIS, and there are women with risk factors who don’t get DCIS. The risk factors for DCIS and invasive breast cancer are similar.
Possible risk factors include: getting older, hormonal factors, a family history of breast cancer, some breast conditions and certain lifestyle factors.
The risk of DCIS increases with age – it’s rare in young women.
Long, uninterrupted periods of exposure to the hormones oestrogen and progesterone can influence the risk of breast cancer. Factors that increase this are:
Your risk is also higher if you’ve had:
The following lifestyle factors may slightly increase your risk:
Sometimes, DCIS is linked to an inherited breast cancer gene. This is more likely if there’s a strong history of breast cancer in a family. The chances of there being a breast cancer gene in your family increase if:
The genes most commonly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in families are BRCA1 and BRCA2. If you’re concerned that there may be a history of breast cancer in your family, ask your GP or breast specialist to refer you to a family cancer clinic.
If you’re worried about your whether you may have an inherited genetic link for breast cancer, our website has an interactive software program called OPERA| (Online Personal Education and Risk Assessment) that gives you support and personalised information about your breast cancer risk.
OPERA isn’t intended to take the place of professional genetic counselling services, so if you’re concerned about genetic risk, you should still consult your doctor.
Content last reviewed: 1 February 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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