Women concerned about their risk of developing breast cancer can receive a thorough risk evaluation and a customized breast health plan through our High Risk Breast Cancer Program.
Several characteristics may put you at a greater risk for developing breast cancer. Lifestyle factors that are within your control include:
- Being overweight
- Eating a poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Alcohol intake (Increased alcohol intake is associated with increased risk for cancer.)
Genetics, family history, medical history and certain factors, like age, are risk factors that are not within your control, include:
- Increasing age (Being older than 60 puts you at greatest risk)
- Family history — Multiple relatives on one side have had breast or ovarian cancer (mother, sister or daughter), especially if diagnosed at an early age.
- Additional blood relatives with breast cancer
- BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, other high-risk genes, other genetically-linked syndromes
- Ashkenazi Jewish heritage (increased incidence of BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation)
- History of radiation therapy that includes the chest (mantle radiation)
- Getting your first period before age 12
- Having your first child when you are older
- Not having any children
- Long-term use of post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy (such as estrogen and progestin)
- High breast density (a greater amount of breast and connective tissue compared to fat), as seen on a mammogram
- History of abnormal cells on a breast biopsy:
- Atypical hyperplasia (a non-cancerous condition in which cells have abnormal features and are increased in number
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (abnormal cells found in the lobules of the breast)
Making an Appointment
To make an appointment or for more information, call 866-680-0505 or use our online form.
What to Expect
Exploring your risk for breast cancer begins with a conversation at the time of your screening mammogram. At all of our screening mammogram locations, the mammography technologist asks you a series of questions about:
- Breast health
- Changes since your last mammogram
- Family history
If the initial assessment shows you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer, we will refer you for more evaluation. Our team has many different ways to assess and manage your risk of developing breast cancer, including:
- Imaging: A plan for regular breast imaging will help monitor any changes in breast tissue that could point to an abnormality.
- Clinical exam of the breasts: An experienced nurse practitioner checks for abnormalities in size or shape, changes in the skin, lumps and whether the lumps are attached to the skin or to deeper tissues. The nurse practitioner also palpates (gently feels) the lymph nodes under the arms.
- Genetic counselor: If you have a concerning family history of cancer, our genetic counselors may recommend you undergo genetic testing for BRCA1, BRCA2 or other genes that predispose you to breast cancer. We will coordinate your testing with our Cancer Genetics Screening Program.
Reducing Your Risk
If your evaluation or genetic testing confirms a strong risk for developing breast cancer, we will work with you and your doctors to determine your needs. Depending on your level of risk, there are several options for reducing that risk.
- Healthy lifestyle: Watching your weight, drinking alcohol in moderation and eating healthy foods can lower your risk.
- Personalized care plans: You may work with your doctor or a nurse practitioner to develop an individualized care plan that may include annual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams in addition to annual screening mammograms. These care plans help detect breast cancer early to improve outcomes.
- Preventive Medications: You may choose to take preventive medications such as tamoxifen and raloxifen. Patients typically take these medications for five years.
- Prophylactic mastectomy: Based on the results of genetic testing for some patients, surgical removal of the breasts may be discussed.
Be sure to manage lifestyle risk factors that are within your control. Nationwide clinical trials have shown that some efforts can reduce a woman's risk of developing breast cancer by 50 percent!
Experts in High Risk Breast Cancer Evaluation
All of our providers are highly experienced in breast health and regularly see patients with breast concerns. Our High Risk Breast Cancer Program team is trained to evaluate risk factors and recognize when a woman might have a gene mutation or other issues that puts her at risk for breast cancer.
We offer high risk breast cancer evaluation at convenient locations in Brookfield, Greenfield, Menomonee Falls, Waukesha, Wauwatosa and West Bend.
- Breast Care Center, Froedtert Hospital campus, Clinical Cancer Center
- Breast Care Center at Froedtert Menomonee Falls Hospital
- Cancer Center at Froedtert West Bend Hospital
- Greenfield Highlands Health Center, Center for Diagnostic Imaging
- North Hills Health Center, Center for Diagnostic Imaging
- Westbrook Health Center, Center for Diagnostic Imaging
- Patients at Moorland Reserve Health Center, part of our Cancer Network, may access the program at any of these locations.
Mammograms and the COVID-19 Vaccine – What You Should KnowSwelling of the lymph nodes is a known side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. Although it is temporary and not harmful, these enlarged lymph nodes may be seen on your mammogram. Because swollen lymph nodes can indicate breast cancer, we may call you back for additional evaluation and possible follow-up imaging. To avoid this, please schedule your mammogram before your first COVID-19 vaccination or four weeks after your second-dose vaccination.
Virtual Visits Are Available
Safe and convenient virtual visits by video let you get the care you need via a mobile device, tablet or computer wherever you are. We’ll gather your medical records for you and get our experts’ input so we can offer treatment options without an in-person visit. To schedule a virtual visit, call 1-866-680-0505.
Cancer and the COVID-19 Vaccine
There is currently no data that suggests current or former cancer patients should avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Cancer can weaken your immune system, so we recommend that most patients get the vaccine as soon as possible.