J Cancer 2013; 4(5):433-446. doi:10.7150/jca.6481


Establishing a Program for Individuals at High Risk for Breast Cancer

Fernando Cadiz1, ✉, Henry M. Kuerer2, Julio Puga1, Jamile Camacho1, Eduardo Cunill1, Banu Arun3

1. Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Breast Cancer Center, Clinica Alemana, Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile.
2. Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
3. Clinical Cancer Genetics Service, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.


Our need to create a program for individuals at high risk for breast cancer development led us to research the available data on such programs. In this paper, we summarize our findings and our thinking process as we developed our own program.

Breast cancer incidence is increasing worldwide. Even though there are known risk factors for breast cancer development, approximately 60% of patients with breast cancer have no known risk factor, although this situation will probably change with further research, especially in genetics. For patients with risk factors based on personal or family history, different models are available for assessing and quantifying risk. Assignment of risk levels permits tailored screening and risk reduction strategies. Potential benefits of specialized programs for women with high breast cancer risk include more cost -effective interventions as a result of patient stratification on the basis of risk; generation of valuable data to advance science; and differentiation of breast programs from other breast cancer units, which can result in increased revenue that can be directed to further improvements in patient care.

Guidelines for care of patients at high risk for breast cancer are available from various groups. However, running a high-risk breast program involves much more than applying a guideline. Each high-risk program needs to be designed by its institution with consideration of local resources and country legislation, especially related to genetic issues. Development of a successful high-risk program includes identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; developing a promotion plan; choosing a risk assessment tool; defining “high risk”; and planning screening and risk reduction strategies for the specific population served by the program. The information in this article may be useful for other institutions considering creation of programs for patients with high breast cancer risk.

Keywords: Breast cancer, genetic counseling, BRCA, preventive therapy, prophylactic surgery.

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How to cite this article:
Cadiz F, Kuerer HM, Puga J, Camacho J, Cunill E, Arun B. Establishing a Program for Individuals at High Risk for Breast Cancer. J Cancer 2013; 4(5):433-446. doi:10.7150/jca.6481. Available from http://www.jcancer.org/v04p0433.htm