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What Should I Do if I Am at High Risk for Breast Cancer?

  • Category: Education
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Amanda Akey

Q: What should I do if I am at high risk for breast cancer?

A: Women may be at high risk for breast cancer if they have close family members who have had breast cancer or other specific cancers, if they have had a breast biopsy showing atypical hyperplasia or LCIS, have extremely dense breasts on mammograms, or were treated with chest radiation at a young age. If you think you may be at high risk, consider seeing your physician for a formal breast cancer risk assessment. If your estimated lifetime risk is over 20%, this is considered high risk, and you may benefit from our High-Risk Breast Clinic. This clinic offers genetic counseling and testing, risk-tailored screenings that include more frequent breast exams, and enhanced breast imaging with 3D mammography and breast MRI. You will also learn techniques for performing self-breast exams and about risk-reducing strategies, such as diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, and limiting menopausal hormone replacement therapy. If appropriate, your physician may discuss risk-reducing medications (also called chemoprevention) or surgery, including a prophylactic mastectomy.

Caroline McGugin, M.D.

Breast Surgeon with Infirmary Surgical Specialists