High Risk Breast Program
Sentara Martha Jefferson offers a High Risk Breast Program aimed at identifying and educating women who may be at greater risk for developing breast cancer.
If you think you may be at high risk for breast cancer and would like to find out, please call the High-Risk Breast Program at 434-654-4483 to speak with our breast nurse navigator.
What Does it Mean to be High Risk?
Being high risk for breast cancer means that a woman's chance of developing breast cancer is greater than average. While this doesn’t mean that that person will definitely develop breast cancer, knowing one's risk can help in making healthcare decisions including frequency of screenings and potentially preventive treatments.
Only 5 to 10 percent of all cancer is hereditary, and over 50 percent of the most common cancers can be prevented. The idea behind the program is to give women the tools they need to help prevent breast cancer and make informed decisions about their healthcare.
Identifying Patients as High Risk
The identification process typically begins when a woman comes in for her mammogram. During check in, she is given a set of questions to help identify her risk level. The questions include age, family history, prior biopsy with abnormal cells, lifestyle factors and post-menopausal hormone use. The information is then analyzed and a risk score is given based off the responses provided by the patient.
Patients with a high score will be notified by letter and asked to reach out to the program's Nurse Practitioner who will then ask additional questions to determine next steps and, if needed, help guide the patient through the program.
What is Involved with our Program?
When you contact the High Risk Breast Program you will speak to our Breast Navigator. The Navigator will ask you questions about your personal and family history to determine if you are a candidate for our program. Depending on your particular needs, our program may include:
- Increased surveillance using mammography, ultrasound and/or breast MRI
- Education about lifestyle factors that can affect your risk profile
- Preventive therapies/clinical trials
- Support groups for other women at high risk
- Nutrition counseling
- Exercise programs
- Genetic counseling and/or testing
- Prophylactic surgery