Women are aware that screening for breast cancer with an annual mammogram is important, and most women check the box off their annual mammogram and forget about their risk of breast cancer for a year. But an annual screening for breast cancer versus understanding personal risk of developing breast cancer are two vastly different things. Our practice now offers individualized breast cancer risk assessment screening to determine your risk for breast cancer – an important metric in your overall health.
From young adulthood, women worry about their risk of developing breast cancer; we understand that just by being female, we are at risk. Most of us know the statistic, “1 in 8,” or 12% of women will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. What we also know is that many women are actually at much higher risk of developing breast cancer than the 12% risk of the general population – and they don’t know it.
Conversely, other women are at a substantially lower risk of developing breast cancer than the general population. For these women, more focus on other efforts pertinent to their individualized risk profile – such as diabetes and heart disease prevention – might be more appropriate than breast cancer detection efforts.
Imaging, with mammography, ultrasound and breast MRI, are tests that detects cancer. These tests do not prevent cancer or help an individual woman understand her risk. And while early detection is critical, as survival rates have vastly improved for women with early disease, prevention of breast cancer entirely is the winning ticket for an individual woman.
Research also continues to shed light on specific factors that impact an individual woman’s risk for breast cancer, including diet, body weight, alcohol intake, puberty, age at first birth, family history and breast density. And now, there are newer versions of breast cancer risk assessment models that take these factors into consideration. Clinicians can use these breast cancer risk assessment tools to determine an individual woman’s risk of breast cancer and compare that risk to the average risk of breast cancer for a woman the same age in the population.
Our Breast Cancer Risk Assessment consultation helps us Identify women who have an increased risk of breast cancer. By doing so, we can provide education about ways to lower personal risk, make recommendations about the need for genetic testing, and discuss potential options for additional screening to detect cancer at its earliest stages. Our practice’s recommendation is that all women should have an individualized breast cancer risk assessment at around age 40.
For women interested in learning more about their own individual risk, there are two consultation options: