Breast Cancer

High-Risk Breast Clinic

The risk for breast cancer is not the same for all women.

Empowered with information from Riverside’s High-Risk Breast Clinic about your own risk factors, you can make choices in breast cancer risk reduction, early detection and breast wellness.

Breast Cancer can affect Women of All Ages

Many women believe that in the absence of having a family history of breast cancer they are not at risk.

While family history is important only 5-10% of breast cancers are due to an inherited genetic mutation, and up to 70% of all breast cancers diagnosed in the USA arise in women without any significant family history of breast cancer.

Women in the USA have a one in eight (12.5%) chance of developing breast cancer during their lifetime. Depending on your personal health history, results of any previous breast biopsies, child birth and family history, your risk of developing breast cancer may be higher. Even if you are only in your 20's and 30's, a discussion with your health care provider about your individual breast cancer risk is encouraged.

Call 757-873-6434 to schedule your appointment with the High-Risk Breast Clinic.

Do you know if you have risk factors that place you at higher risk for developing breast cancer?

 A “high-risk” designation can be determined by one factor or a combination of factors. Some factors are controllable, such as weight, physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption and smoking status. Other factors that you can control include age at childbirth and the decision to take hormones after menopause.

There are factors outside of your control. Examples of these are:

family history of breast iconFamily history of breast and/or ovarian cancer
Your risk increases if your mother, sister or daughter is diagnosed with either breast or ovarian cancer. Other red flags include family members diagnosed with breast cancer younger than 45, family members with bilateral breast cancers or any male breast cancer in your family. In addition, your risks can be increased if you have multiple family members diagnosed with breast or other cancers. Risk can be inherited equally from your mother’s or your father's side of the family.


genetic mutations iconGenetic mutations
You're at higher risk if your family members have a mutation, especially BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Individuals with hereditary risk for breast cancer may have up to an 85% lifetime breast cancer risk.


history of abnormal breast icon

History of abnormal breast biopsy
Atypical cells on a breast biopsy puts you at a higher risk for developing breast cancer. 


dense breast icon

Dense breasts, seen on mammogram
Breasts comprised of more connective and glandular tissue and less fatty tissue have been associated with higher cancer risks and lower chances of detection on mammography.


bmi iconA high body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more
BMI is based on your weight in relation to your height and indicates if you're at a healthy weight. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for developing breast cancer.


increasing age icon

Increasing age
Risk of breast cancer increases with age. In fact, two out of three invasive breast cancers are found in women over 55.


history of chest wall radiation iconHistory of chest wall radiation at a young age
Chest radiation at a young age for diseases such as lymphoma, Hodgkins Disease, and others increases breast cancer risk up to three times higher than the general population. This increase is highest starting 10-20 years after the radiation is completed.


other family history icon

Other family history
A family history of other cancer such as pancreas, prostate or melanoma, or an Ashkenazi/ Eastern European Jewish ancestry may place you at higher risk of developing breast cancer.



Empower yourself with information when you establish care at Riverside’s High-Risk Breast Clinic

We understand that having a higher risk of developing breast cancer can be overwhelming.

When you come to Riverside’s High-Risk Breast Clinic you will gain the knowledge to understand your risk, learning ways to reduce your risk and detect breast cancer at an earlier stage, when it is easier to treat.

Female Patient And Doctor Have High Risk Breast Consultation In Hospital Room

What can I expect when I have a consultation at the High-Risk Breast Clinic?

A complete history and physical examination, verification of your high-risk status, discussion of therapy goals and potential interventions will occur during your initial consultation. We will answer any questions you may have. Additional imaging studies may be ordered at this time, and if you have a strong inherited risk you may be referred to a genetic counselor for genetic testing. Certain genetic mutations predict a higher chance of developing breast cancer.

Together we will discuss goals of risk reduction therapy based on your individual risk factors and develop a personalized risk reduction strategy that is best for you and your family.

Friendly Female Doctor Explains the Mammogram Procedure to a Topless Latin Female Patient with Curly Hair Undergoing Mammography Scan. Healthy Female Does Cancer Prevention Routine in Hospital Room.

A personalized risk reduction and early detection plan designed around you

When you are at higher risk of developing breast cancer you may benefit from different types of risk reduction and early detection strategies.

Based on your individual risk factors and personal health history, your plan could include the following interventions:

  • Lifestyle modifications such as nutrition, exercise, and smoking cessation. You will have access to our dietitians and other support specialists.
  • Enhanced surveillance with more frequent imaging, such as adding Breast Ultrasound and Breast MRI to your regular screening mammograms.
  • Pharmaceutical Risk Reduction Tamoxifen and Raloxifene, medications used to treat breast cancer, have also been shown to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by 50%.
  • Preventive Surgery For some women at the highest levels of risk, the option to have risk reducing surgery, such as a mastectomy (with or without reconstruction), is the right choice for them and has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Ongoing surveillance at the High-Risk Breast Clinic

Frequently Asked Questions

Riverside uses the Tyrer-Cuzick and other models to assess your risk of breast cancer. The models ask a series of questions and from your responses a score will be provided indicating your personal risk versus that of the general population for women of the same age, race and ethnicity.

The Tyrer-Cuzick model calculates your risk of breast cancer developing within the next 10 years as well as within your lifetime.

The tool uses the following factors to determine risk:

• Age
• Age of first menstrual cycle
• BRCA gene mutation
• Childbirth history
• Family history
• Height and Weight (BMI)
• History of breast biopsies
• Specific pathology of breast biopsies (e.g. atypia and LCIS)
• History of ovarian cancer
• Menopausal status
• Use of hormonal therapy
• Breast density
• Ashkenazi inheritance

Tyrer-Cuzick results fall under one of three categories: average lifetime risk (less than 15 percent), intermediate lifetime risk (15 to 19 percent) and high lifetime risk (more than 20 percent). If the results demonstrate a lifetime risk of 20% or greater, you would benefit from a consultation at the High-Risk Breast Clinic.

Based on your personal and family history, if you are determined to be at higher risk of breast cancer, this does not mean you have breast cancer or will develop it in the future. It means your chances are higher than that of the general population.
If you are found to be at high risk for developing breast cancer, it does not mean that you have breast cancer, or that you will develop it in the future. It means that your risk is higher than that of the general population and you should investigate ways to reduce and manage your risk and intensify your screening so that if cancer develops it can be caught at the earliest possible time.
While your visit is with a breast surgical oncologist, this does not mean you have cancer or that you will need surgery as part of your risk reduction plan. Our breast surgical oncologists are experts in the field of high-risk breast cancer management.
For more information or to make an appointment, call 757-873-6434.

You do not need a referral to be seen at the High-Risk Breast Clinic.

You may self-refer or be referred to the clinic by your health care provider.

Our care will be coordinated with your current health care provider team.

Men can develop breast cancer, although it is less common than in women. Men with a strong family history of breast cancer and an inherited BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation, would benefit from being seen in the High-Risk Breast Clinic. Men with a breast mass or enlarging breasts should contact their health care provider for evaluation.

Hormone therapy may place transgender women (assigned male at birth) at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. If you have taken hormone medications, discuss this with your health care provider, sharing your personal and family history, so your personal breast cancer risk can be determined.

Transgender men (assigned female at birth) are still at risk of developing of breast cancer even after gender confirmation surgery. A discussion with your health care provider about breast cancer screenings, along with a discussion of family and personal history, will guide the breast cancer risk reduction and early detection plan that is right for you.

The High-Risk Breast Clinic is located in Riverside Surgical Specialists at 109 Phillip Roth Street in Newport News.