High-Risk Breast Cancer

Dr. Andrea Abbott

The MUSC Health High-Risk Breast Evaluation Program provides advanced screening, detection and treatment of breast cancer to women at high risk for developing the disease. Unsure if you are at high risk? This program is especially for women who have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer; a history of abnormal cells in breast biopsies; a personal history of breast cancer gene mutation known to be associated with breast cancer; and hormone-related characteristics, such as age of first period, first pregnancy, and menopause onset.

Risk Factors

We evaluate your personal and hereditary risk factors for developing breast cancer.

Multidisciplinary Care

We deliver optimal patient care through a multidisciplinary approach, including experts with specialized training in medical oncology, breast imaging, and breast surgery and reconstruction.

Genetic Counseling

Genetic counseling at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center provides you with a quantitative breast cancer and genetic risk assessment, consultation on the pros and cons of genetic testing as well as the coordination of genetic testing and interpretation of test results. 

Early Detection & Risk Reduction

Individualized options are available for earlier cancer detection and cancer risk reduction, including lifestyle modification, enhanced clinical screening, MRI screening, chemoprevention, and prophylactic surgery.

Are You at Increased Risk for Developing Breast Cancer?

The cause(s) of breast cancer is not yet fully understood. Risk factors are conditions that are known to increase a person’s chance of developing cancer. Just having these conditions does not mean you will necessarily develop cancer. Additionally, cancer can form in people without any identifiable risk factors. Risk factors can be controllable (e.g., smoking) and uncontrollable (e.g., family history). Knowing your risk factors can help you to be aware of your risk and guide lifestyle and health care choices.

Increased Risk Factors

  • Older age: 80% of breast cancer cases occur in women over 50 years of age.
  • Female gender: less than 1% of breast cancer cases occur in men.
  • Personal history of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Family history of cancer: breast (especially males and those over forty years of age) and/or other specific cancers (ovarian, skin, prostate, colon, thyroid, pancreas).
  • Atypical hyperplasia or LCIS on previous breast biopsy.
  • Inherited genetic mutations: people who carry certain gene variants (e.g., BRCA1, BRCA2) are at higher risk for developing breast cancer.
  • Obesity.
  • Alcohol consumption: drinking more than one to two drinks a day.
  • Estrogen exposure:
    • Early menstruation – before age 12.
    • Late menopause – after age 55.
    • Never pregnant.
    • Late pregnancy – after age 30.
  • Radiation: especially during younger years.
  • High breast density on mammogram.
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.