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Published on October 27, 2016

breast cancer and genetics link

Avera High-Risk Breast Cancer Prevention Clinic

Whether you know you’re at high risk for developing breast cancer or simply want to find out – the Avera High-Risk Breast Cancer Prevention Clinic is the place to go. You’ll partner with a team of Avera Cancer Institute breast cancer experts who’ll help you:

  • Identify and understand your personal breast cancer risk factors.
  • Determine the most effective breast cancer screening and preventive options for you.

Early Detection: Knowledge is Power

Ten years ago, Amy Krie, MD, a breast oncologist, recognized the need to help women who were at high risk for breast cancer.

“Breast cancer can be very treatable when it’s detected early,” says Krie. “The goal of our clinic is to empower women who are at higher risk for breast cancer. With the cutting-edge imaging available at Avera, we have the ability to detect cancers at their earliest stages. We also focus on diet and lifestyle modifications, medications and researched focused on the prevention of cancer.”

Comprehensive Consultation

“At the High-Risk Clinic, we look at the big picture by talking through health history, family, lifestyle and any other risk factors,” says Tricia Merrigan, MD, FACS, an Avera Medical Group breast surgeon. “Our hope is that each woman feels comfortable coming to us with all of her breast health questions and concerns.”

During an initial consultation, each woman meets with multiple breast cancer experts who may include Merrigan, genetic counselor Kayla York, MS, CGC, and a surgeon such as Julie Reiland, MD, FACS and Wade Dosch, MD, FACS.

“It’s a great opportunity for women to meet with a team who specializes in breast health,” says Reiland. “We can explain why they’re considered high risk, make recommendations, answer questions and help them navigate through all of the screening and diagnostic options with confidence.”

Genetic Counseling

If you have a family history of cancer, your consultation may include genetic counseling with York. As a specialist in cancer genetics, she can provide unique insight about your risk and recommend preventative and screening options based on your genetics.

“Clarifying risks and helping women be proactive can really reduce and minimize their chance of developing breast cancer,” says York. “It’s all about helping women be comfortable with what they choose to do.”

Lower Your Weight – Lower Your Risk

Although many breast cancer risk factors are out of women’s control – such as genetics – Reiland encourages women to take advantage of the factors they can control.

“It’s all about making healthy choices with diet, exercise and reducing alcohol intake,” she says. “Losing even five pounds can reduce your risk for breast cancer. When you combine losing weight with exercise – such as 30 minutes a day, five or six days a week – you can compound the effects which could give you a 10-40 percent risk reduction. Plus, you’ll enjoy additional benefits such as reducing your risk for heart disease, joint problems and diabetes while improving your overall feeling of well-being.”

Personalized Screening & Prevention Plan

After the consultation, each woman is encouraged to choose a plan that she is most comfortable with, which may include advanced screening and diagnostic procedures or tests – all available at the Avera Cancer Institute.

“As we develop a relationship with each woman, we can really help by anticipating what’s next and providing proactive care to prevent and detect breast cancer,” adds Reiland.

True to Avera’s mission, the High-Risk Breast Cancer Prevention Clinic considers each woman’s needs as a whole.

“When it comes to making recommendations, we take everything into consideration in order to determine what’s best for her not only physically, but also emotionally and financially,” says Merrigan.

“After meeting with us, women often share that they’re not as worried about breast cancer because they know that we’re looking out for them,” she adds. “It’s an ongoing relationship and they know we’re always here for them.”

You can learn more about Avera’s comprehensive cancer services.

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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