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Assessing Genetic Risks for Ovarian and Breast Cancer

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MADISON - Women faced with a known genetic mutation or significant risk factors for breast and/or ovarian cancer now have a resource for exploring their options for prevention and surveillance.


Earlier this year, the UW Health Breast Center launched the state’s first multidisciplinary service for patients with an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer.


When a woman is first scheduled in the High Risk Clinic, she will be evaluated by a team of experts including medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, gynecologic oncologists, plastic surgeons, genetic counselors, and/or cancer psychologists.


The clinic offers routine surveillance appointments as well as the comprehensive first evaluation and risk assessment. The clinic provides conveniently scheduled imaging so patients traveling from a long distance can have all their annual screening done on the day they are seen in this clinic.

The program, run in collaboration with the UW Carbone Cancer Center, also offers patients access to breast cancer prevention trials. Research initiatives include novel screening techniques, evaluation of new genetic markers and medical prevention trials.


Eligible patients have a:

  • Known BRCA1 or 2 gene mutations
  • First-degree relative with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and who haven’t had personal genetic testing
  • Lifetime risk of breast cancer of 20 percent or greater, according to risk assessment tools (such as the Gail Model Risk)
  • History of radiation therapy to the chest between the ages of 10 and 30 years
  • Personal history of ovarian cancer, lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH) or atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH)
  • Relatives with any of the following diagnoses:  breast cancer under the age 50,  ovarian and breast cancer, male beast cancer, or bilateral breast cancer 
  • Other genetic mutations which place them at increased risk for developing breast cancer (such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome, hereditary diffuse gastric cancer syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome) or have first-degree relatives with these syndromes.