OGDEN -- Between the ages of 30 and 39, a woman's risk of developing breast cancer is 1 in 233.
From 40 to 49, that risk increases to 1 in 69. During her 50s, her chances of developing cancer rises to 1 in 42, and in her 60s, she has a one in 29 chance of developing the disease.
A woman's lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is about one in eight.
These statistics, provided by Dr. Catherine Babcook and Dr. Robert Harris, two local experts in the field, show that a woman's risk rises with age.
However, breast cancer is not unheard of in younger women, which is why every woman should do a self breast exam and have regular checkups, both physicians said.
"These risks are for the average woman," said Babcook, medical director of the Breast Imaging Center of Excellence at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.
"The greatest risks for breast cancer are being a woman and getting older, so you can think of these as the baseline risk.
"The risk below the age of 40 isn't high enough to justify screening the entire population in that age group with mammography. Getting to know your own normal breast tissue texture and feel is the best way to notice change."
There is very little that lowers these risks in the average woman, the doctors say, but there are things that can increase risks, such as a strong family history of breast cancer.
"Many women misunderstand the issue of family history and think they aren't at risk for breast cancer if they don't have a family history (of the disease)," Babcook said. "This is incorrect. Their risk just isn't increased over the baseline risk level."
The most common symptom of breast cancer is nothing at all, Babcook said. Feeling fine with no symptoms related to the breast is the most common situation with breast cancer. That's why mammography screening is so important.
"When breast cancer gets big enough, it can be felt as a lump and increasing firmness or thickening in the breast," she said. "Small, early cancers can't be felt, and it is when they are small and early that they are 98 percent curable, so this is when we want to find them."
Harris, a radiation oncologist at Ogden Regional Medical Center, said cure rates for breast cancer are very good when it's caught early.
He also said other factors that increase the risk of developing breast cancer include prolonged exposure to estrogen or hormone replacement therapy, radiation exposure, obesity, alcohol and certain inherited genes.
Exercise, he said, has been shown to decrease the risk.
Harris said other symptoms of breast cancer can include a bloody discharge from the nipple, changes in the size or shape of the breast, nipple inversion and changes to the skin over the breast or the nipple, such as dimpling, peeling, scaling, flaking or redness.