Breast Cancer Hereditary Risk Assessment Program

The Hereditary Risk Assessment Program at Middlesex Hospital’s Comprehensive Breast Center helps patients identify their genetic risk for the breast cancer. Genetic testing and hereditary assessment can provide important information for risk management, including individualized guidelines for cancer screening and prevention, particularly for women with a family history, including multiple individuals with the same type of cancer or cancers occurring at a relatively young age.

Who Should Get Tested?

If you have any hereditary risk factors for breast or ovarian cancer, you can contact us to make an appointment with our hereditary risk assessment nurse practitioner. Or, when receiving a mammogram at Middlesex Hospital, our technicians will ask you about your family history of breast and ovarian cancer. If it determined that you are at increased risk, our Nurse Practitioner will send a letter in the mail with information on how to schedule an appointment.

What to Expect

During your visit, our nurse practitioner will go over your personal and/or family history on cancer in detail, provide information about Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, and discuss your options for genetic testing. Our nurse practitioner will also make several recommendations for screening, preventing, and managing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer risk.

Because the results are proven to aid in the early detection and intervention of breast cancer, this visit and testing is covered by most insurance plans.

Managing Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risk

If it is determined that you have a genetically increased risk for breast or ovarian cancer, your physician will discuss and work with you to develop a personalized strategy to monitor your breast health. Screening and preventative measures may include:

Increased Surveillance

  • Monthly breast self exams (ages 18-21)
  • Annual or semi-annual clinical breast exams (ages 25-35)
  • Yearly mammography/MRI (ages 25-35)
  • Annual or semi-annual transvaginal ultrasound and testing for CA-125 to screen for ovarian cancer (ages 25-35)

CHEMOPREVENTION

  • Drugs such as Tamoxifen have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in high-risk populations
  • Oral contraceptives may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations

PREVENTATIVE SURGERY

  • Preventive mastectomy significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer in women with BRCA1or BRCA2 mutations
  • Preventive removal of the ovaries significantly reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, and also breast cancer, in women with BRCA1or BRCA2 mutations

 

Helpful Resources

For more information on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer risk factors and genetic testing visit the following websites:

American Cancer Society 

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp

National Cancer Institute 

http://www.cancer.gov

Myriad (Company that does BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing)

www.myriadtests.com

For more information about laws pertaining to genetic testing and discrimination, visit the National Human Genome Research Institute at:

http://www.genome.gov/PolicyEthics/LegDatabase/pubMapSearch.cfm

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