Breast Cancer Prevention & Detection

  • Tracey O’Connor, MD meets with a high risk patient to explain the advanced techniques used to combat breast cancer.

Risk Factors

Women with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop breast cancer. Some risk factors, such as drinking alcohol, can be avoided. But most risk factors, such as having a family history of breast cancer, can't be avoided. Risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Older age
  • Beginning menstruation at an early age
  • Older age at first birth or never having given birth
  • A personal history of breast cancer or benign breast disease
  • A mother or sister with breast cancer
  • Having radiation treatment to the chest
  • Breast tissue that appears dense on mammogram
  • Taking hormones such as estrogen and progesterone
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being overweight; a sedentary lifestyle
  • Being Caucasian

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) offers an online Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool.

Risk Assessment & Prevention Program

Dr. Bonaccio explains the new, less invasive process of getting a breast biopsy after an abnormal mammogram.

The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment & Prevention Program offers the most advanced surveillance, screening, diagnostic and preventive methods to women most at risk for breast cancer.

The program provides:

  • A comprehensive breast cancer risk assessment
  • Regular clinical breast exams
  • Breast imaging
  • Genetic counseling and testing, if appropriate
  • Options for prevention and reducing cancer risk

You may be eligible for this program if you have:

  • A family history of breast cancer among your parents, siblings or at least two other close relatives
  • A family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer
  • Multiple cancers within a family
  • A known mutation in one of the breast-cancer related genes (BRCA1, BRCA2, PTEN, TP53) in you or your family
  • An abnormal breast biopsy
  • Prior radiation treatment to the chest

To learn more about the program, or whether you qualify, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or complete an online form.

Breast Cancer Genetics

Some breast cancers occur as a result of inheriting genes that contain certain mutations. Hereditary breast cancer accounts for only 5 - 10 percent of all breast cancer cases. A family may have an inherited gene mutation or mutation syndrome that increases cancer risk, such as:

Clues to an inherited cancer risk:

  • A diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer before age 60
  • Multiple people in the family with the same or related cancers, such as breast and ovarian; or colon and uterine
  • Two or more relatives (on the same side of the family) with the same cancer type, such as breast cancer or colorectal cancer
  • A cancer diagnosis at an early age (younger than 50)
  • More than one primary cancer in an individual (this means two of more new cancers; not one that has spread to other locations)
  • Occurrence of a rare cancer, such as ovarian cancer or male breast cancer
  • Occurrence of a cancer in a person not exposed to a known risk factor, such as lung cancer in a nonsmoker
  • A known cancer gene mutation in the family

Clinical Genetics Service

Our Clinical Genetics Service team can provide appropriate cancer and genetic risk assessment, testing, and a comprehensive genetic consultation to help you understand what this information means for your personal health.

Our clinical genetics services include:

  • Genetic counseling to educate about the biology and genetics of cancer
  • Constructing a genetic pedigree (family tree)
  • Evaluating cancer risk
  • Options for prevention, surveillance and screening
  • Genetic testing
  • Interpreting genetic testing and what it means for you and your family