High Risk Assessment Program

A free service for women who may be at high risk for breast cancer

When it comes to breast cancer, early detection is the key to survival. But for women at high risk, early detection may be more challenging than it is for women at low or intermediate risk.

Why? For one thing, women at high risk may not actually know it. Our High Risk Patient Navigator can work with you to assess your risk using the Tyrer-Cuszik Risk Assessment Model. This estimates the likelihood of developing breast cancer in 10 years and over her lifetime. It can also help determine if she may benefit from genetic testing and counseling.

Another reason is that high risk women can improve their chances for early detection with supplemental screening tests in addition to mammography. These include 3D mammography (tomosynthesis), breast MRI and breast ultrasound.

The High Risk Assessment Program at IHS is designed to help women understand their risk for breast cancer and provide recommendations to help them reduce risk and live healthier.

What factors contribute to high risk?

Many factors can influence a woman’s risk for breast cancer. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Family history – Having one or more relatives with breast or ovarian cancer or both
  • Age – A women’s risk rises as she gets older
  • Ethnicity – Some ethnicities (such as white (non-Hispanic)women and black women) are at a higher risk than women of other ethnicities
  • Breast density – As measured on her most recent mammogram. Dense breasts increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer and may also make supplemental screening more important in  achieving early detection
  • Lifestyle factors – A woman’s weight, frequency of exercise, smoking, alcohol intake and more can affect a woman’s risk for breast cancer
  • Previous medical conditions or treatments – Previous biopsies and the use of hormone replacement therapies (HRT) can increase risk.
  • Obstetric and menstrual history

Why is it important to know if I’m at high risk?

  1. It helps you to remain more vigilant in breast cancer screening and in taking the necessary risks to reduce your own risk
  2. It allows you to notify other family members and your children so that they themselves can be aware that they may be at high risk, and take the proactive steps necessary to reduce their chances of getting breast cancer
  3. It improves the likelihood that your insurance will cover any additional genetic and screening tests that are recommended by your doctor.

What can I expect from the IHS High Risk Assessment Program?

The process is very simple and takes very little time. The assessment can be performed over the phone with our High Risk Patient Navigator. She will ask questions, answer your questions, and prepare a report specifically for your doctor. This report is meant to be sure every member of your care network is on the same page, which can ensure a smoother experience with your various healthcare providers.

If your lifetime risk for breast cancer is greater than 20%, this alerts your care network so that they can help you take the proactive steps necessary to help you achieve the earliest possible detection.

“I am someone who is proactive about my health and I do my best to lead a healthy life. When I had the pleasure of speaking with Beth and answering her questions she let me know that I in fact did fall into a high-risk category based on factors of my own as well as the factors of my family history.  

No one had ever taken the time to screen me in this way. None of my doctors, none of my nurse practitioners, none of the providers at other imaging centers had ever asked me this simple list of questions. I had never considered that I might be “high risk,” even though my mom was diagnosed at age 60. 

When I was told I was high-risk, I was shocked. I was scared. But ultimately I’m thankful because at the end of the day what it did was it made me very aware of how proactive I need to be about my health as a woman. This screening tool prompted me to go the extra step and find a specialist who would help me undergo genetic testing to see if I was at even greater risk.

I cannot thank Imaging Healthcare and Beth enough for that phone call and that conversation that help me make decisions that could potentially save my life, but also have helped me have conversations with friends of mine to let them know they need to be careful too. They need to ask questions and they need to always be their own best advocate for the health.”

-Lara A., San Diego, CA

Beth Najera, CPN, RT is IHS’ High Risk Patient Navigator. With more than 26 years’ experience in women’s health, Beth partners with referring physicians to offer the best possible care for patients. She also performs high risk assessments and works with referring office in pointing them in the right direction should a patient with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer need BRCA genetic testing or counseling.

 

For more information about how the Patient Navigator program will assist you, please contact Beth Najera, at 858-658-6411 or bnajera@imaginghealthcare.com.

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