What can be done to decrease my risk for breast cancer if I test positive for a gene mutation?
There are several options available for breast cancer risk reduction in high-risk women. Chemoprevention involves taking a medication to lower the risk for cancer. Tamoxifen is a medication that has been approved to lower breast cancer risk in certain high-risk women and appears to lower risk by up to 50%. Other medications are being researched. Surgical removal of healthy breasts and/or ovaries, known as prophylactic surgery, can effectively lower the risk for breast cancer in high-risk women as much as 95%. In addition to risk reduction options, increased surveillance tools such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and ultrasound can be used in conjunction with mammography to assist in detecting breast cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage. These tools and others, such as ductal lavage, are currently being studied to see if they improve outcome for high-risk women who choose surveillance. None of these options eliminate the risk for breast cancer. In addition, each option has its own benefits and risks. It is important to choose a healthcare team that is trained in managing high-risk women and discuss each option thoroughly with them.