Breast cancer risk assessment
Creating a personalized plan to evaluate and manage your risk of breast cancerCall for an appointment
Assessing your risk for breast cancer and preventing it from occurring requires a personalized approach. Many different factors play important roles in determining your risk. Duke’s breast specialists help you determine your risk of breast cancer and then tailor your breast care plan to your individual needs.
What is your risk for developing breast cancer?
Several factors increase your risk for breast cancer including:
- Your gender and age
- Your weight, smoking, diet, alcohol, and exercise habits
- Family history and genetic predisposition
- Menstruation, pregnancy, and hormone replacement therapy
- Dense breasts on imaging and certain breast changes identified on breast biopsy
As breast specialists, we take these factors and more into consideration when personalizing a plan to help you manage your breast health. After a comprehensive consultation, we order appropriate breast imaging, determine next steps, and provide an overall management strategy for your future breast health.
After your breast cancer risk is assessed
If you are average risk, you may be given a schedule for routine screening under the care of your primary care doctor.
If you are above average risk, you may be given a schedule for increased screening, which may include additional breast imaging and routine follow-up in the Breast Risk Assessment Clinic.
If an abnormality is identified, you may be referred to the breast specialists at our breast clinic for additional testing.
If you have a genetic predisposition to breast cancer, or one is suspected, you may benefit from the close relationship our breast specialists have with the genetic counselors in Duke’s Hereditary Cancer Clinic. We can arrange for you to undergo genetic counseling and testing, if appropriate.
Choose Duke for your personalized breast risk assessment
- We offer mammography at six convenient locations in Durham and Wake counties. Same-day appointments are available, and you can get same-day results during our Saturday clinics.
- Our nationally accredited breast imaging program is an American College of Radiology Breast Center of Excellence. This means it has undergone a rigorous review process to ensure it meets and follows national standards and guidelines. It is accredited in breast ultrasound, breast MRI, screening mammograms, diagnostic mammograms, and stereotactic biopsies.
- If you are identified as ‘at risk’ for an inherited breast cancer, you may be referred to our genetic counselors. If appropriate, they may recommend testing for BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 genes — the most common cause of hereditary breast cancer — and will help you interpret your results. With these facts, they can discuss the options that will keep you and your family healthy. Genetic testing for other causes of hereditary breast cancer are performed when necessary.
- If needed, you will have immediate access to the entire scope of our nationally recognized breast cancer program, which includes the most advanced breast imaging technology and breast cancer treatments, medical and surgical care, clinical trials, patient and family support, and advanced breast reconstruction techniques.
BREAST CANCER RISK ASSESSMENT
Your customized breast care evaluation and plan may include:
Several types of breast imaging are available for screening; we will recommend the technology that suits your history, and your breasts, as well as how often it should be repeated.
Tamoxifen, raloxifene, and aromatase inhibitors have been shown to decrease some women’s risk of breast cancer. We can help you decide if this might be right for you.
We work closely with the Hereditary Cancer Clinic, where genetic counselors provide testing and counseling for women who may be genetically predisposed to breast and other cancers. If necessary, we can refer you to these highly trained specialists for evaluation.
BREAST CANCER RISK ASSESSMENT
Breast imaging technology
Two different angles of X-rays look for any changes in breast tissue that may signal a suspicious mass.
If a suspicious area is detected, a diagnostic mammogram will focus the exam on the area in question. Diagnostic mammograms may also be recommended for women who have had breast cancer or who have a new breast symptom.
Digital breast tomosynthesis is similar in appearance to traditional digital mammography. However, its camera takes multiple X-ray images -- or photographic slices -- which are compiled to create a 3-D image of the breast. It is primarily used for screening mammograms. Studies show it is up to 40 percent more effective at detecting breast cancer than traditional digital mammography, and results in up to 30 percent fewer call backs for additional tests.
Sound waves are used to image the breast without radiation exposure. Breast ultrasound may be recommended for women with dense breasts, or to determine the difference between lumps that are fluid-filled or solid masses.
Magnetic resonance imaging is not recommended as a routine screening test but may be appropriate for most women with an increased risk of breast cancer. Breast MRI takes images of the breast from many angles, which allows radiologists to look more closely for cancer in soft tissue that cannot be seen using mammography and does not use radiation.