Many women who are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer are not aware of their risk. If you are at an increased risk, a pharmacologic preventive therapy (chemoprevention) is a consideration you should discuss with your health care provider. It has been reported that the agents used can reduce the risk by 50%.
The Gail Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool is one of the models that has been developed to quantify a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. By answering a series of questions about lifestyle, obstetric and gynecological history, and family history, a 5 year and lifetime risk can be calculated. If there is a moderate to high risk, lifestyle and pharmacologic interventions should be considered.
Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) and Raloxifene (Evista) are two agents that may be discussed to help in the reduction in breast cancer. There are risks and benefits to both medications, which need to be considered.
…..Breast cancer and Lynch syndrome genes are carried by over one million people in the United States, and these two conditions are associated with the most common hereditary gynecological cancers. At present, only a very small percentage of the women who carry these genes have been identified. Therefore, the protocols that can be used to decrease the risk of dying from the cancers that these genes can cause are not being instituted.
…..Our family history will be the first indication that these genes may be a part of our genetic pool, and this can lead to testing for our carrier status. If identified, the cancer screening tests start earlier for the individual carrier and for their relatives in future generations.
…..We must remember that, based on family history, about ten percent of women are at an increased risk for a gynecological cancer. Due to the increased risk of breast, ovarian, colorectal, and prostate cancer, which is determined from the family history, a more intense and earlier testing program may be needed.
…..A woman with a first degree relative with breast cancer has an increased risk for developing that cancer, and it is greater if that cancer was found in that relative before the age of 50. A first degree relative is a parent, brother, sister, or child.