High-Risk Breast Cancer

The MUSC Hollings Cancer Center High-Risk Breast Evaluation Program provides advanced screening, detection and treatment of breast cancer to women at high risk for developing the disease.

Early Detection | Genetic Counseling | Hereditary Cancer Clinic | Risk Factors | Prevention | Mammograms at MUSC Health | Symptoms | Care Locations

Am I at Increased Risk for Developing Breast Cancer?

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 (atypical ductal hyperplasia [ADH] or lobular carcinoma in situ [LCIS]);
  • a personal history of breast cancer gene mutation known to be associated with breast cancer;
  • hormone-related characteristics, such as age of first period, first pregnancy, and menopause onset.

You may be referred to the program by your primary care provider or gynecologist based on that doctor’s assessment of your risk or based on a risk assessment provided on your mammogram report. You can also ask to be seen yourself. Every Hollings mammogram report provides a preliminary lifetime breast cancer risk assessment.

Once you have been taken under the care of the high-risk program, you will get regular follow-ups so that, if breast cancer develops, it should be caught early.

Early Detection & Risk Reduction

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer or to improve your chances of detecting a cancer earlier, which could make it easier to treat. Some of these options come with side effects, so you will decide with your doctor which actions are right for you. Those could include:

  • Chemoprevention: Chemotherapy pills to prevent cancer before it starts.
  • Prophylactic surgery: A mastectomy to remove your breasts before cancer can begin.
  • MRI screening: Advanced screening for detecting potential tumors.
  • Lifestyle modification: Reducing your alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight and ensuring you’re getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week can help to reduce your risk.

Genetic Counseling

For patients with a family history of cancer, genetic testing can help determine how best to reduce risk. 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. Patients who test positive are then followed in the Hollings Hereditary Cancer Clinic.

Hollings Hereditary Cancer Clinic

For people with a cancer risk gene, this clinic can help organize your follow-up care and minimize your risk. Genetic mutations that may be passed down through families can put you at higher risk for breast cancer. Some of these mutations can cause different types of cancer. For example, a mutation in the CHEK2 gene can increase the risk of colorectal cancer and breast cancer.

The Hollings Hereditary Cancer Clinic can help you to understand your genetic risk of cancer and steps that you can take to prevent cancer or find it earlier.

Hereditary Cancer Clinic

The Hereditary Cancer Clinic at Hollings is dedicated to helping people with mutations in cancer-causing genes.

Learn about the clinic