Your risk of getting breast cancer increases as you get older

Your risk of getting breast cancer increases as you get older. Breast cancer is relatively uncommon before the age of 30, but risk increases with age thereafter, especially up to the menopausal years. Risk continues to rise with age following the menopause, but the rate of increase is less pronounced. One quarter of cases are diagnosed in women under 50, and 36% in women aged 50-64. The remaining 39% are distributed equally between women aged 65-74 and those aged 75 and over.


Risk of Breast Cancer


1 in 632


1 in 209


1 in 89

45- 49

1 in 48


1 in 28


1 in 20


1 in 15


1 in 12


1 in 10


1 in 9

Source: National Cancer Registry Ireland, 2014 

(2009-2011 average).



Other risks:

Women with any or some of the risk factors below may never develop breast cancer and women without them may develop the disease. These risk factors have been identified as increasing or decreasing your chances of developing breast cancer, but breast cancer has many causes so it is impossible to pinpoint any one cause in any individual woman.

  • Many of the important risk factors for breast cancer relate to a woman's reproductive history:
    • early onset of periods,
    • late age at first pregnancy,
    • few or no children
    • and late menopause all increase risk, while breast feeding and having children early appear to reduce risk.
  • These relationships suggest that oestrogen has an important role in breast cancer, and is supported by the observations that current or recent use of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) also increase risk.  

Breakthrough Breast Cancer has a very good publication on Risk at which lists risks under the headings Established, Possible and Doubtful.

Download & print this guide

Irish Breast Cancer Charter9 things you should know about breast cancer (PDF 478KB)