Monday, December 05, 2016

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Know Your Breast Cancer Risk Number

fight breast cancer

What is a risk number?
First let’s be clear, a high breast cancer risk number doesn’t mean a women will certainly get breast cancer and a low breast cancer risk number does not mean it’s impossible. For most women the average lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is 12 percent to 13 percent. A risk of 15 percent to 20 percent is “moderately increased” and above 20 percent is described as “high risk.” It’s a good idea to understand your breast cancer risk number now. The absolute best advice is to discuss your personal breast cancer risk with your own doctor.

Why should I know my breast cancer risk number?
Some healthcare providers and organizations recommend annual screening for women starting at 40, and others recommend screening every other year starting at 50. Wait until 50 and you'll reduce the number of false alarms— but you'll also miss some cases of cancer. So what's the answer?

Every woman is unique. We have different risk factors, different genetic makeups, different family histories. Working together with your primary care provider SMIL physicians now calculate your individual risk for breast cancer each time you get a mammogram.  We recommend you get your mammogram (start at age 40 if you can) and discuss your individual risk with your provider. This more tailored approach, now made possible by a SMIL mammogram, is what "personalized medicine" is all about.If you are at moderately increased risk then American Cancer Society recommends you ask your doctor about adding breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). If you are at high risk the clear recommendation is that you get a mammogram plus an MRI starting at age 30.

How do I find my breast cancer risk number?

Each time you get a SMIL mammogtram we use all 5 of the most widely accepted risk models to calculate your individual risk for breast cancer. You can get an idea with a condensed version of one of the models. Click on the link below.

Know Your Number

Why is breast MRI not recommended for screening all women?
Breast MRI is very safe and uses no radiation. When added to mammograms or breast ultrasounds, it catches more cancers but there are also more “false positives.” A “false positive” is something that initially looks suspicious but turns out to be harmless after more tests or a biopsy. A breast biopsy is easier and more efficient than ever before but it is important you never have more tests than medically necessary.

Next Steps
If you have questions about when you should get a mammogram, your personal risk for breast cancer or if you’re a candidate for breast MRI screening, talk with your doctor. Contact a SMIL facility for your breast screening or choose a facility that, like SMIL, has ACR accredited Breast Imaging Centers of Excellence, specialized breast MRI screening equipment and expert breast imaging radiologists.