Take advantage of these tools to assess your breast cancer risk
When you schedule your next mammogram, you can also take advantage of another tool to prevent breast cancer — a lifetime breast cancer risk assessment.
This enhanced program to identify lifetime breast cancer risk is a collaboration of several LMH Health departments: imaging, the Women’s Center and the Cancer Center.
“As a regional destination for progressive, integrated cancer care, we work with patients to identify their breast cancer risk,” said radiologist Dr. Richard Kuckelman. He added that the program “allows us to develop and deliver the personalized treatment each patient needs to ensure their very best outcome.”
When patients come in for a mammogram, they also work one-on-one with a mammography technologist to complete a risk assessment form. The LMH team then reviews the risk assessment form to determine a patient’s lifetime risk for breast cancer. It takes into account a number of factors, including age, height, weight, breast density, family history and any previous genetic testing results for mutations in the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes.
Women with a 20% or greater lifetime risk for developing breast cancer will receive a referral to Lawrence Breast Specialists on the LMH Health West Campus for an evaluation and consultation.
“If your risk assessment shows that you’ve got a higher risk, we’ll sit down with you face-to-face and discuss the things the technologist went over,” said Dr. Jennifer Hawasli, a surgeon with Lawrence Breast Specialists. “We’ll verify the score is accurate and use a tool that looks at four other lifetime risk calculators to get a better overall picture of your risk. Once we have that number, we can discuss all of the options we have here for you.”
After this consultation, patients may be referred to the Cancer Center for additional care. The center, which is accredited by the Commission on Cancer, provides cancer prevention programs, enhanced breast imaging technology such as MRIs, and breast exams twice per year.
If you’re at high risk for breast cancer, you may also qualify for genetic testing, which looks for mutations in certain genes that are known to be linked to cancer.
“Our team follows the guidelines set by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. We’re able to draw the blood right here in our offices to test for specific genes and panels,” said Dr. Jodie Barr, an oncologist with the LMH Health Cancer Center. “We essentially offer everything here that’s offered in Kansas City.”
If the genetic tests come back positive for high-risk mutations, LMH Health also offers genetic counseling, where you can speak to a counselor and get personalized information about your cancer risk. You can also learn if others in your family should be tested, what your results mean and what your next steps should be.
“We’ll continue to follow you and provide recommendations about what to do after a positive result,” Barr said. “If you do need cancer treatment, the LMH Health Cancer Center tailors treatments for each patient based not only on the disease type but also the genetic makeup specific to their cancer.”
Of course, these risk assessment options don’t take the place of a mammogram. LMH Health has 3D mammography machines that allow radiologists to find more cancers than a standard digital mammogram.
Hawasli said that one out of eight women get breast cancer in their lives, and that even women who are at low risk of developing cancer should perform breast exams once a month and have a mammogram once a year after age 40.
“Using these tools allows us to detect cancer at an early stage and make sure we do everything we can,” she said.
You can contact the LMH Health Women’s Center at 785-505-3800 to schedule a mammogram.
— Autumn Bishop is the marketing communications manager at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Journal-World’s Health section.