starts with an assessment of risk factors, such as a
woman's personal history of cancer, previous radiation treatments, family
history of breast or ovarian cancer, and previous abnormal tests.
Additional assessments delve deeper into the patient's medical and family
history, and are reviewed by Dr. Heck and Callif-Daley. If further testing
is necessary, the option of genetic testing will be presented, and
Callif-Daley will meet with the patient and explain the advantages,
disadvantages and limitations of genetic test results.
"Testing positive for a genetic mutation that predisposes you to breast
cancer does not mean you will get breast cancer, and testing negative does
not mean you won't get breast cancer," explains Callif-Daley. "There are
many other factors that determine your overall risk, and we need to
carefully examine the whole of a woman's health, not just individual
For women determined to be at higher risk, whether through genetic
testing or other methods, surgery or medications may be recommended to
reduce their risk for cancer. Additionally, a medical surveillance program
will be developed to monitor for any occurrence of breast or related
cancers. That may include more frequent clinical breast exams, ultrasound
exams or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans, along with digital
Linda Blum's Story of Survival
Linda Blum, 54, of Clayton, OH, is a woman who wanted answers about her
breast cancer risk. In May of 2005, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Blum was a busy mom of four, wife and caregiver to her husband who was
fighting throat cancer, in addition to serving as a cheerleading coach and
school board president for the Northmont City Schools. She says she "had
too much to live for" and wasn't going to take her diagnosis "lying down."
Seven months later, after a lumpectomy, intensive chemotherapy and
radiation, she was cancer free.
When she was originally diagnosed, no one in her family had
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