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 tailor your breast care plan to your individual needs.
Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
Several factors affect your risk for breast cancer including:
- Gender and age
- Weight, smoking, diet, alcohol, and exercise habits
- Family history and genetic predisposition
- Menstruation, pregnancy, and hormone replacement therapy
- Certain breast changes identified on breast biopsy
Personalized Plan to Manage Your Breast Health
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, place referrals to any necessary consultants, determine the next steps and provide an overall management strategy for your future breast health.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
If you are at average risk for breast cancer, you may be given a schedule for routine screening under the care of your primary care doctor.
Above Average Risk
If you're at 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.
Abnormality Identified on Breast Imaging
If an abnormality is identified, you may be referred to the breast specialists at our breast clinic for additional testing.
Genetic Predisposition to Breast Cancer
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. If appropriate, they may recommend testing for BRCA1& and/or BRCA2 gene mutations -- the most common cause of hereditary breast cancer -- and will help you interpret your results. With these facts, they can discuss the options that can keep you and your family healthy. Genetic testing for other causes of hereditary breast cancer is performed when necessary.
As a patient in our breast clinic, you may participate in monthly interactive, educational webinars that are held online using the Zoom platform. The education sessions are facilitated by a breast care provider who leads group discussions on topics such as breast cancer risk, nutrition, genetics, anxiety related to being at high risk, and more. Other Duke providers may also participate in these sessions to provide focused education on featured topics.
Comprehensive Breast Cancer Care
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.
We offer mammography throughout the Triangle. 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.
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 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% more effective at detecting breast cancer than traditional digital mammography and results in up to 30% fewer callbacks 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 fluid-filled lumps and solid masses.
Magnetic resonance imaging is not recommended as a routine screening test but may be appropriate for 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 may not be seen using mammography alone. It does not use radiation but does require an infusion of a special contrast (typically gadolinium).
Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2021–2022.