High-Risk Breast Program Offers Women Peace of Mind
It's no secret that early cancer detection is the most important factor in successful treatment and survival. However, medical advances now also allow us to identify women that might be at higher risk for developing cancer due to their family history or genetic make-up. That is why UnityPoint Health – Trinity has expanded our efforts in cancer prevention and detection in recent years. In October 2017, the hospital started a High-Risk Breast Program. Since then, thousands of women have been screened and hundreds have been counseled on genetic risk factors.
Determine Your Risk
It starts with knowing the factors that could put you at risk. Women with a familial history of breast cancer, for example, have a 15 to 40 percent potential of developing breast cancer. To determine your hereditary risk, gather your family health history and discuss that with your primary care provider. You may be referred to meet with a breast health specialist and genetic specialist to further assess your risk.
Along with family history, other factors that increase the risk of breast cancer include:
- Age (four out of five breast cancers diagnosed are in women over 50)
- Certain breast changes (diagnosis of atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ)
- Menstrual period beginning at an early age
- Going through menopause at a late age
- Having no children, or having your first pregnancy after age 30.
Meeting with a Specialist
A breast health specialist or genetic specialist will help you take steps to find the right screening and care plan, based on your unique needs. For example, a specialist can work with you on understanding what factors are impacting your cancer risk. They can also assist you in determining a need to change your regular breast screening to something different than mammography or if you or your family members need genetic testing to help determine your chance of getting cancer.
Genetic screenings through the High-Risk Breast Program at UnityPoint Health – Trinity help identify patients with a positive genetic mutation. Patients found to be at high risk based on personal, familial and/or lifestyle risk are recommended changes in medical management to reduce their risk. If you are identified as high risk, the specialist might recommend strategies that include screening breast MRIs, chemoprevention or risk-reducing surgery, as well as long-term cancer screening and monitoring.
The High-Risk Breast Program at UnityPoint Health – Trinity offers peace of mind for women at risk of breast cancer. If you are at greater than normal risk for developing breast cancer, we can help. Through the program, you will be provided an individual assessment, recommendations for prevention and innovative breast care, all close to home.
To be assessed for our High-Risk Breast Program and learn more about genetic screenings, call (309) 779-5080.