Understand Your Risk & Take Control: The Significance of Preparation and Prevention When it Comes to Breast & Ovarian Cancer

Preparation and prevention are essential when it comes to your health. The Hoag Breast & Ovarian Cancer Prevention Program specializes in the management and care for women who have tested positive for a genetic mutation that increases their risk of breast, ovarian and/or uterine cancer.

“Hoag’s Breast and Ovarian Cancer Prevention Program is delivering on the promise of personalized medicine, helping women to identify their lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer through genetic counseling and testing,“ said Heather Macdonald, M.D., Medical Director of the Hoag Early Risk Assessment Program. “Identifying women who have an increased risk empowers them to take the necessary steps to reduce their risks.”

To learn more about your own breast cancer risks, here.

Women with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer have several options available, including:

Increased surveillance with mammogram, breast MRI and pelvic ultrasound: Women who are at high risk for breast cancer should get a breast MRI and a mammogram every year, typically starting at age 30. The benefit of MRI is that it can help your doctor find cancerous tumors based on blood flow. Women who are at a high risk for ovarian cancer should get a pelvic ultrasound allowing visibility of the female pelvic organs.

Chemoprevention: Taking certain oral contraceptive pills and other medications can have what is called a “chemopreventive” effect on cancer. Taking an estrogen blocking medication for 5 years reduces breast cancer risk for some high-risk women by 50%. When taken for 5 years, some birth control pills have even been found to reduce ovarian cancer risk by 50%. Working with your doctor, you can find the medication and approach that is right for you.

Surgical prevention: Women with certain genetic mutations are at increased risk of breast, ovarian and other cancers. Surgically removing healthy breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes has been found to drastically reduce a woman’s risk of disease. However, no surgeon can provide a 100% guarantee that you won’t get cancer. It is important to talk to your doctor about your options and work together to determine what is right for you.

Learning that you have an increased risk of developing cancer can feel overwhelming and a bit scary. Knowledge is power and knowing your risk of cancer can lead you to lifestyle changes, medications or surgeries that allow you to take control of your risk. Let us help you through this journey. With a renowned medical team on your side, you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way. Learn more about Hoag’s Breast and Ovarian Prevention Program.