How knowing the risks for breast cancer can reduce the likelihood of developing the disease


RICHMOND, Va. — Each year, more than 190,000 American women and men are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Knowing the risk factors for breast cancer can reduce the likelihood of developing the disease.

Dr. Ryan Gabriel, a radiologist with the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute, says the average women has a risk of about 12% to develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

“The American Cancer Society considers when women are at a 20% or greater, so one in five chance of developing breast cancer, at high risk,” Gabriel says.

According to the American Cancer Society, certain risk factors include obesity after menopause and heavy alcohol use. Women with high breast density and African American women are also more likely to develop breast cancer.

Inherited mutations in a patient’s BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can also be a red flag.

Family history, especially women with a mother, sister or daughter who has had breast cancer, may double the risk to develop the disease.

At the Sarah Cannon Institute, physicians are able to help patients determine their risk of developing the disease, while also putting them in contact with the appropriate provider.

“We are taking it one step further and we’re giving them the opportunity to see specialized providers in breast health to kind of keep everything in one place,” Gabriel says. “We will be able to talk about risk protection strategies, supplemental screening, potentially with MRI, or if they meet the criteria for genetic counseling, it’s all incorporated in one facility.”

Physicians say knowing your risk factors and getting yearly screenings can help save lives.



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