34-Year-Old Angela Rothrock's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 40, and died five years later. When Angela's first mammogram last year showed suspicious calcifications, she had a biopsy, which was negative for cancer. The same thing happened after her six month checkup.
Angela's doctor referred her to the high-risk breast clinic at Geisinger's Gray's Woods office. She and Physician Assistant Eileen Maney are watching those calcifications, which can be normal or a sign of cancer.
Maney says, "if it's new or changing, you probably want to follow it in six months or take a biopsy for it."
Assessing Angela's risk and protecting her from breast cancer, goes beyond mammograms and biopsies. Because of her mother's history, she'll be tested for the breast cancer genes.
Angela says, "if it comes back that I do have the gene, I would want to have a double mastectomy immediately and just eradicate any worry or concerns."
Angela may also be offered Tamoxifen or another drug shown to prevent breast cancer.
The clinic is designed to be a one-stop-shop for women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, with extremely dense breasts, and those with suspicious biopsies.
According to Maney,"everyone comes in very anxious. A lot of times I will ask, well, what do you think your breast cancer risk is? And they say 75%, 50%, 80%, and by the end of the visit where I can reassure them, well okay maybe you do have an elevated risk, maybe it's only 5% 10% chance of getting breast cancer, the stress level goes down."
It's important to keep in mind, that while some women at high risk of breast cancer can be identified and helped, the majority of women who get breast cancer have no risk factors that can be identified, yet.