Just by virtue of their gender, all women are at risk of developing
ovarian cancer. Knowing your individual risk can make all the difference.
That is why
Hoag Breast Center in Irvine now offers the
Hoag Early Risk Assessment (HERA) program, which goes beyond
screening mammograms to give women the in-depth information they need to take control of their
Available for free to eligible women between the ages of 35-55 who get
their mammograms at Hoag, HERA provides women with both the results of
their screening mammogram and their relative risk of developing breast
cancer. Risk is based on two trusted risk assessment models, the Gail
and Tyrer-Cuzik models.
Women and their referring providers receive results of their risk assessment
along with their mammograms. If a woman has a “normal” mammogram
but an elevated risk, the program provides for a free individualized consultation
with a high risk nurse practitioner.
“We reach out to all eligible women who are at elevated risk. We
have a personal conversation with them and make recommendations based
on their unique risk,” said Karen Herold, DNP, WHCNP-BC, FNP-BC,
High Risk Breast Cancer Nurse Practitioner. “This empowers women
to know what their risk is and educate them about what they can do about
Many of the factors that increase a woman’s lifetime risk are within
a woman’s control, including body mass index, smoking and exercise.
In fact, at least 75-80% of breast cancer cases are caused by risk factors
other than genetics.
This means that women have the power to reduce their risk. The program
also assists primary care providers by notifying them of their patients’
elevated risk and providing them with individualized recommendations for
In a pilot program of 300 women, Hoag found 13.8% were at elevated risk
– higher than the national average of 12%. The women enrolled in
the program said they appreciated being able to use the information to
make educated decisions with their physicians about how to address their risk.
“They reduced their weight, increased their exercise, decreased alcohol
and decreased their smoking,” Herold said. “Some went to genetic
counseling, and all of them said they understood their risk for developing
breast cancer more than they had before.”
They say knowledge is power. The power of HERA is to help women turn awareness