Assess breast cancer risk in your patients

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month isa great opportunity to learn more about how genetics can help in breast cancer risk assessment. Test your knowledge in Rachel's case and see the free courses and resources below for more information and earn CME or CNE credit!

Test your knowledge

Rachel is a 39-year-old woman with a personal history of a benign breast biopsy (nonproliferative fibrocystic changes) at age 37. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 62 and her paternal aunt had breast cancer at age 70. The family history is negative for any other cancers. 

What is your recommendation about next steps based on Rachel's breast cancer risk?

  1. Refer her to a genetic counselor
  2. Consider early mammogram
  3. Recommend population screening

See the answer

The correct answer is 2) Consider early mammogram.

Rachel is at increased risk of developing breast cancer based on her personal history of a breast biopsy in combination with a first-degree relative with breast cancer. Because of this history, considering early mammograms is appropriate. For others with increased risk due to abnormal breast biopsies, breast MRI might also be considered.

Current guidelines disagree on the best age to start mammography, 40 or 50. Discussing the benefits and risks in the context of her family history and personal medical history allows Rachel to make an informed decision. 

Rachel's family history does not meet criteria for high risk because of the ages of onset (>50 years or postmenopausal) and because the two affected relatives are on different sides of the family. Therefore, a referral to genetics is not indicated. 

See more cases in the CME/CNE course Using Family History to Inform Management >>

Learn more risk assessment in the CME/CNE course Categorizing Cancer Risk >>

See the Cancer risk assessment tool >>

Learn more

About one in 10 women has a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer that puts her at increased risk of developing these malignancies due to underlying genetic factors. Even more women have a family history of breast cancer that can also increase their risk. These courses provide opportunities to learn about hereditary breast cancer syndromes, how to use family history to assess risk level and inform management, and communicate with patients about genetic risk. Free CME available.

Collecting Family History. Self-directed, 15-minute online program about asking the right questions to elicit enough information to assess family history disease risk.

Identifying Red Flags and Patterns that Increase Risk. Self-directed, 15-minute online program about identifying genetic red flags and patterns in a family medical history that can help determine if a condition has a significant genetic contribution. 

Categorizing Cancer Risk. Self-directed, 15-minute online program that provides opportunity to learn and practice how to analyze family histories and classify the patients' risk into average, increased (or moderate), or high risk for cancer.

Using Family History to Inform Management. Self-directed, 15-minute online program about determining appropriate management based on family history risk using available guidelines.

See more breast cancer resources >>