« All Blogs Oct 28, 2016
Cancer Risk Assessments and Preventative Options for Breast Cancer
by Melanie Lynch, MD, Breast Surgeon, Summa Health

The second important advancement in breast health and cancer is cancer risk assessments and preventative options for breast cancer. 

Current evidence and national guidelines supports the benefits of some proactive preventative options for high risk women, including women with a genetic predisposition for breast cancer.

Preventative options can include annual MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in addition to screening mammogram, taking a hormonal therapy called Tamoxifen, or deciding to take a surgical prevention approach.

But you need to know and share with your physician that you are high risk.

What is high risk? The risk of breast cancer depends on lifestyle (choices you can control, food choices) and personal health history (factors you can’t control, like family history of cancer). They just discussed lifestyle, let’s they will now turn to family history.

Statistically only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease but your risk doubles if you have a mother, sister or daughter who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Other cancers can also increase your risk such as uterine, endometrial, ovarian and colon. According to the National Cancer Institute, a woman who has inherited a harmful genetic mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who does not have a mutation.

The important point is to know your cancer family history and share it with your physician. Certain recurring cancers within families are something your physicians will want to record and update if there are any changes.

At Summa Health, they help patients become educated and understand how to prevent breast cancer. They have a dedicated expert team of breast care specialists who monitor and follow a patient’s care, assess ongoing risk, and keep patient’s under close surveillance to detect any early breast changes.

So ask questions and understand all you can do to lower your risk for and prevent breast cancer. 

Read the third important advancement for breast health and breast cancer survivors in our next blog post.


  1. Preventable Incidence and Mortality of Carcinoma Associated with Lifestyle Factors among White Adults in the United States, JAMA Oncol, May, 2016.
  2. Statistics supplied by SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2009, National Cancer Institute
  3. Clinical Practice Guidelines on the Use of Integrative Therapies as Supportive Care in Patients Treated for Breast Cancer, J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 2014 50:346-358, 2014.
  4. Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by Patients with Cancer: A Cross Sectional Study at Points of Cancer Care, Medical Oncology, June, 2016.
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