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Breast and Ovarian Cancer Screening

Evaluating your risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (also known as HBOC) is also part of your routine care. It is important to screen for this syndrome since women who have it are at high risk for developing certain cancers, and it is better to know sooner rather than later if you are at risk.

Patients who have a family history of certain cancers are most at risk. For instance, if you have multiple family members who have had breast cancer, ovarian cancer or both, you are at higher risk. You may also be at risk if you’ve had a family member who has had both breast and ovarian cancer, or if someone in your family had breast cancer at an early age. The vast majority of families who have the syndrome have a gene mutation that is inherited. These genes are known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 (“BRCA” stands for breast cancer).

About Your Appointment

To screen you for HBOC syndrome, your physician will ask you questions about your family health and cancer. They will also consider your ancestry because these gene mutations are known to occur more frequently in certain populations. This information will help your physician determine whether or not you should have a more in-depth assessment to review your cancer genetics. Further testing may include collecting blood and saliva samples.

Developing You Prevention Plan

If this genetic assessment confirms you have this gene mutation, your physician will begin a screening and prevention plan that includes regular ultrasounds to track for ovarian cancer. We may also recommend salpingo-oophorectomy surgery, which removes both of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. This surgery can reduce risk by between 85 to 90 percent.

To reduce breast cancer risk, our center staff will schedule a twice-yearly breast examination for you, as well as yearly mammograms and MRIs. Other prevention options include chemoprevention therapy and a mastectomy. A mastectomy is a surgical option that removes both breasts reducing your risk by up to 95 percent.

Deciding on a surgical procedure can be a significant personal decision, so our physicians will consult with you on the implications to help determine what is best for you.