High-risk Breast Cancer

Early detection is key to successful breast cancer treatment and positive results. The UMass Memorial Comprehensive Breast Center offers the region's only specialized program to help identify and monitor women at high risk for developing breast cancer.

Early identification allows you and your physician to work together to create an appropriate breast cancer screening schedule for detection.

While the exact causes are unknown, we do know that factors such as family history, age and race influence the occurrence of breast cancer. If you or your family members are concerned about breast cancer, you can receive an evaluation by a team of breast cancer specialists.

High-risk Breast Cancer Screening Program Services

Referrals

You can be referred to our High-risk Breast Cancer Screening Program by your primary care physician or obstetrician/gynecologist. Or, if a family member was recently diagnosed with breast cancer putting you at a higher risk for the disease, you can call for an appointment.

High-risk Assessment Models

There are several methods available to assess breast cancer risk for women with a family history of breast cancer or other factors that increase the chances of developing the disease. The following assessments may be used to develop a personalized plan for prevention and monitoring.

  • Gail Model – This assessment tool, developed by the National Cancer Institute and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project. It enables a health professional to estimate a woman’s individual risk for breast cancer over a five-year period and over her lifetime. The calculated score can then be used as a guide for establishing personalized prevention and monitoring programs.
  • Cash Model - This model relies on data from women who had breast cancer and who have first- or second-degree relatives with breast cancer (mother, sister, aunt). Unlike the GAIL model, it combines a woman’s age at diagnosis and paternal relatives with a history of the disease. The risk for the unaffected relative can then be calculated based on her age.
  • Genetic Counseling and Testing - Although most breast cancers occur in women who do not have a strong family history of the disease, about five to 10 percent have a genetic predisposition for breast cancer. Women with a BRCA (breast cancer) gene mutation have up to an 80 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, and a 15 to 45 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
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