Discovering and Delivering Compassionate,
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the exact
causes are unknown, we do know that factors such as family history, age and race
influence the occurrence of breast cancer.
UMass Memorial Comprehensive Breast Center offers the region's only specialized
program to help identify and monitor women at high risk for developing breast
Early identification of risk allows you and your physician to work together
to create an appropriate breast cancer screening schedule for detection. Early
detection is key to successful treatment and a positive result.
or your family members are concerned about breast cancer, you can receive an
evaluation by a team of breast cancer specialists. The High-risk Breast Cancer
Screening Program offers:
You can be referred to our High-risk Breast Cancer Screening Program by your
primary care physician or obstetrician/gynecologist. Or, if a family member was
recently diagnosed with breast cancer putting you at a higher risk for the
disease, you can call for an appointment.
High-risk Assessment Models
There are several methods
available to assess breast cancer risk for women with a family history of breast
cancer or other factors that increase the likelihood of developing the disease.
Once a woman is identified as high risk, one or more of the following
assessments may be made to determine the appropriate personalized plan for
breast cancer prevention and monitoring.
- GAIL Model - This assessment tool, developed by the National Cancer
Institute and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, enables a
health professional to estimate a woman’s individual risk for breast cancer over
a five-year period and over her lifetime. The calculated score can then be used
as a guide for establishing personalized breast cancer prevention and monitoring
- CASH Model - This model relies on data from women who had breast cancer and
who have first- or second-degree relatives with breast cancer (mother, sister,
aunt). Unlike the GAIL model, it combines a woman’s age at diagnosis and
paternal relatives with a history of the disease. The risk for the unaffected
relative can then be calculated based on her age.
- Genetic Counseling and Testing - Although most breast cancers occur in women
who do not have a strong family history of the disease, about five to 10 percent
have a genetic predisposition for breast cancer. Women with a BRCA (breast
cancer) gene mutation have up to an 80 percent lifetime risk of developing
breast cancer, and a 15 to 45 percent risk of ovarian cancer.