Hope for high risk
By Juliann Whitebread
Today, the chance of a woman developing invasive breast cancer in her lifetime is a little less than one in eight. But for some women, particularly those with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, the risk of developing the disease is much higher.
The newly established High Risk Program at the UF Breast Center was designed to not only identify women at a higher risk level, but also to provide them with individualized preventive care to reduce their risk.
“Early detection allows cancers to be caught at a stage where there is less need for aggressive treatments and a better chance for a cure,” said Karen Daily, D.O., an assistant professor of medicine in UF’s College of Medicine and founder of the High Risk Program. “Additionally, many recent advances have led to improved treatments for patients diagnosed with cancer. Now we can work toward prevention of the disease, and that is the ultimate goal of this program.”
Individuals who have had prior thoracic radiation therapy, multiple breast biopsies or extended exposure to estrogen through reproductive history or hormone replacement therapy can also be considered high risk and potential candidates for the program.
Once enrolled, patients will benefit from the expertise of a compassionate and talented multidisciplinary team, which includes specialists in medical oncology, genetics, radiology, surgical oncology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, gynecology, reproductive endocrinology and infertility, psychology and social work.
In addition, women will have the advantage of an individualized risk assessment and the creation of a unique plan, which may include digital mammography, breast MRI, genetic counseling and testing, chemoprevention, lifestyle modification, and risk-reducing surgery and reconstruction.
“Seeing patients in this setting helps to more precisely define their risk of developing breast cancer. That information is very empowering to a group of women who are understandably concerned,” Daily said. “Some women will be reassured to find their risk is not as high as they feared, and others will be offered interventions so that they can actively participate in reducing their risk.”