Breast Cancer Risk Management

If you’re at high risk of developing breast cancer, you’re not alone. The breast care experts at El Camino Health will help you develop a personalized prevention plan.

When you’re identified as having an increased risk of breast cancer due to personal or family history, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss whether genetic testing is the right option for you.

Genetic Counseling and Testing

Genetic counseling services are available to help you learn more about genetic conditions and how they might affect you and your family.

Services provided include, but are not limited to:

  • Reviewing your family’s medical history.
  • Explaining how genetic conditions are passed down through families.
  • Determining whether you and/or a family member are at risk for disease.
  • Providing information about genetic conditions.
  • Guiding you to make more informed decisions or plans.
  • Informing you about testing options and helping you decide what is best for you and your family.
  • Referring you to medical specialists, advocacy, support networks and other resources.
  • Explaining genetic testing results and what they mean for you and your family.

It’s best to have your doctor refer you for genetic counseling. Genetic counseling services are often covered by insurance. Check with your provider for details about your specific plan coverage. For more information, please call us at 650-962-4577

Breast Cancer Risk Management

Specific risk management is often recommended for women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation. You’ll receive personalized recommendations based on your age, health, family history and other factors. A team of specialists — including a medical oncologist, surgeon, radiologist and other experts — collaborates on every plan. Each expert will meet individually to discuss your options and develop an individualized care plan.

Risk management options may include some or all of the following measures:

  • Monitoring for early detection. In addition to yearly mammograms, your doctor may recommend further testing. Tests may include whole breast ultrasound, breast MRI, more detailed mammography or more frequent clinical exams.
  • Chemoprevention. Also known as chemoprophylaxis, chemoprevention involves taking medication to decrease your chances of developing breast cancer. Medications are typically used to reduce the effect of estrogen on your body.
  • Preventive surgery. The surgical removal of your breasts is a difficult and highly personal decision. Preventive surgery may involve removal of all breast tissue (mastectomy) and removal of your fallopian tubes and ovaries (salpingo-oophorectomy).This cuts the risk of breast cancer in high-risk premenopausal women by 50 percent and reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by more than 90 percent. Our expert breast and plastic surgeons offer multiple reconstructive options.
  • Lifestyle changes. Weight loss, regular exercise and a reduction in alcohol consumption can help reduce breast cancer risk and improve overall wellness. We have a dietitian on staff to provide advice about diet and proper nutrition. We also collaborate with local health clubs to promote fitness programs for women at risk.

Automated Ultrasound for Dense Breasts

Dense breast tissue is a risk factor for breast cancer, regardless of whether you’re also at risk genetically. Breasts are composed of fat and milk-producing fibroglandular tissue. The density of breast tissue is typically split into two categories: dense or fatty. Dense breasts have a high percentage of fibroglandular tissue, while fatty breasts have a lower percentage.

Dense breast tissue makes regular mammograms especially challenging to read. At El Camino Health, we use technology that automatically and objectively determines your breast tissue density from the information contained in your mammogram. If your breast tissue density is high, your doctor may recommend you have a breast screening ultrasound or a breast MRI.

Mammography is still the first line of defense in breast cancer screening, but adding other methods can substantially improve cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue. Our Lurie Women's Imaging Center uses a sophisticated new technology known as whole breast ultrasound (ABUS™). As the only hospital in Northern California to offer this technology, El Camino Health's diagnostic professionals use whole breast ultrasound to supplement routine mammography and help locate tiny tumors that may be hidden in dense tissue.