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August 13,


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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Cancer Center assesses risk for women


Physicians from the Medical Center's Wilmot Cancer Center now offer a breast cancer risk assessment program for women concerned about a diagnosis. The program, first of its kind in Upstate New York, identifies personal risk factors that could lead to breast cancer.

"This is the first time a comprehensive approach is being used to help women understand what chance they have of developing cancer and to allay the fears of those who may have overestimated their likelihood of a diagnosis," said Jennifer Griggs, assistant professor of medicine and of community and preventative medicine and codirector of the Comprehensive Breast Care Program.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, and each year more than 44,000 die from it. The program's goal is to identify women with high risk factors and to encourage immediate preventive measures. Research shows that early detection is the most effective way to prevent serious illness.

In general, most women overestimate their individual risk of breast cancer. Using a mathematical model, experts will project individual probabilities of developing breast cancer. This model, appropriately applied, can be reassuring to a woman who estimates her risk to be above average.


"For women who are at elevated risk, we want to begin preventive measures as quickly as possible," said Gretchen Ahrendt, associate professor of surgery and program codirector.

Those determined to be at elevated risk may choose further screening techniques to supplement self-examination and mammography, as well as chemoprevention measures or participation in clinical trials to combat the disease, such as the study of tamoxifen and raloxifene.

The Risk Assessment Program follows the multidisciplinary approach of the Comprehensive Breast Care Program, which brings experts from all specialties together to prepare individualized treatment plans, and is part of Project Believe, a Strong Health initiative to build a healthy community by 2020. For more information, call x5-4651.

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