Interpreting Breast Cancer Statistics: The Difference Between Absolute and Relative Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Breast Cancer Facts and other Breast Cancer topics.

What is the difference between absolute and relative breast cancer risk factors when determining personal statistics?

Interpreting Breast Cancer Statistics: The Difference Between Absolute and Relative Breast Cancer Risk Factors

A risk factor can be defined as something that may increase your chance of getting breast cancer. There are two ways that scientists define risk factors: absolute and relative. An absolute breast cancer risk factor is the chance a particular group of people will develop breast cancer over a specific time period of time. For example, if you are a woman, you have a 1 in 8 (or 12.5%) chance of developing breast cancer in your lifetime. A relative breast cancer risk factor compares how something specific, (like inheriting a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation), will change your risk compared to those who don’t have that specific thing. So, if a woman who has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation has up to an 80% chance in relative risk of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis during her lifetime (and at a younger age) over those who don’t, what does that breast cancer statistic mean? Multiply the absolute risk of 12.5% by the relative risk of 80%. The answer is 10%. So 10% is the size of the increase in risk. Then add the 10% increase in risk to the 12.5% risk, and she has a 22.5% absolute risk of breast cancer during her lifetime, at a younger age, if she has inherited a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. It is important to know the difference between absolute and relative risk so you can determine how certain breast cancer statistics apply to you.

   

Comments

Nobody has commented on this tip yet. Be the first.



Name:


URL: (optional)


Comment:


Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Breast Cancer Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!


Guru Spotlight
Joe Wallace