Buddy Check 7: Factors that put women at higher risk for breast cancer

Published: Apr. 8, 2019 at 2:28 PM CDT
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Breast cancer can truly impact anyone at any time, but there is a portion of society that's already at a higher risk for developing the disease in their lifetime.

It might go without saying, but the factors that play into a person being diagnosed with breast cancer are broad.

"Breast cancer risk is very complex," certified genetic counselor Katie Plamann explained.

"There's a lot more that goes into it beyond just our genetics. And, so that's one of the things that we talk about, all the other different factors that might play a role here, to make sure that we're giving people the most accurate risk assessment for themselves." Plamann said.

Marshfield Clinic works hard to try and pinpoint some of the potential contributors to cancer.

Breast Care Coordinator Amanda Boreen said, "Initially there is a questionnaire that women can fill out to help navigate. So, what things will we be looking for or a reason to go to the clinic to be assessed and then it's more of a formal assessment. "

The team works to explain to patients, that just because you're at high risk, doesn't mean a diagnoses is ultimately waiting for you.

"So, just having a high risk does not mean that they will have cancer. And, that's one thing that we really try to emphasize; that there'e a lot that goes into somebody's risk; that there are factors that we can't change like our genetics. But, there are factors that we can change like our lifestyle. And, that's what we try to focus on, that women still have things that they can do to reduce that risk," Plamann said.

If you do find yourself in the high risk category, recognizing it early, could put you on the best path to beating the disease, should breast cancer appear.

"More breast imaging, there's different modalities that can be used for different situations. It can mean taking a medication to help reduce your risk. Sometimes it means surgical procedures as well. So, just because you are at high risk, doesn't mean you have to do all of those things. but you should have the discussion," Boreen explained.