Am I at high risk for breast cancer?

It’s important to know your risk for breast cancer, especially if you are considered to be high-risk. In addition to encouraging you to be more vigilant with regular screenings, classification as high-risk can mean access to more screening options as well as insurance coverage for these tests.

There are several ways to know if you’re high-risk:

woman thinking about high risk

A risk model is a questionnaire used by you and your doctor to help determine your individual risk. We recommend the Tyrer-Cuzick risk assessment tool because it is shown to be highly accurate, and unlike other risk models, it factors in breast density, as well as the family history of both parents.

Tyrer-Cuzick Model (IBIS) version 8 update was based in part on input from Dr. Jennifer Harvey and Dr. Martin Yaffe and includes breast density (Windows/PC only). In this model, breast density is one of the top five factors determining breast cancer risk. This model is the most comprehensive and tends to be the most accurate at predicting risk at the population level.

Denser breast tissue puts you at a higher risk for breast cancer, and it also may mean that you could benefit from a supplemental screening test, such as an ultrasound. You’ll discover your breast density when you have a mammogram here at our center or it may have been included on your last mammogram report if you’ve had one recently.

Having a parent, grandparent or sibling with breast cancer increases your risk, as does a mutation in either your BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. A simple blood test can help you learn if you have a BRCA gene mutation.

African American and Ashkenazi Jewish women have a higher risk for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. African American women also have twice the risk of developing more aggressive “triple negative” breast tumors. Native Alaskan women have the highest overall incidence of breast cancer followed by non-Hispanic white women.