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School of Medicine
Evaluation of Genetic Contribution to Cancer Risk
The Breast Cancer Program at The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center is transforming cancer care through the scientific evaluation of how genetics contribute to cancer risk. Our physician scientists are improving care through the identification of the likelihood of cancer, or your personal cancer susceptibility, based on family history or environmental risk factors – and how to improve the management of those risks.
Coordinated Care by Team of Cancer Experts
Kala Visvanathan, Director of Clinical
Cancer Genetics and Prevention
At Johns Hopkins, our multidisciplinary cancer experts work together to better define at what point genetic counseling is recommended. Different aspects of risk are considered either before any indication of cancer – simply because of a strong family history of the disease – or after a cancer diagnosis. High risk assessments and the evaluation of the genetic data can then determine either preventative or surgical and treatment decisions.
Personalized Care Based on Risk Factors
Based on an individual’s risk factors for breast cancer, our team can personalize care. For example, a confirmation of a high risk for the development of breast cancer would indicate more frequent screenings such as diagnostic mammograms or MRI examinations.
Our breast cancer specialists carefully evaluate the risk benefits and personal impact for each patient for both prevention and treatment planning. This very personalized approach requires detailed discussions on a case by case basis to fully understand your personal genetic risk factors. Through these conversations, we can make the most appropriate decisions to reduce the risk of a cancer diagnosis, MRI or the recurrence of cancer.
Who Should Consider Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer
Information is empowering and our goal at Johns Hopkins is to help patients feel comfortable taking the next step managing their individual risks for breast cancer. Through research and clinical trial data evaluation, we know that these risk factors indicate more detailed evaluation:
- Family history of genes linked to breast cancer which include Breast Cancer genes 1 and 2, more commonly known as BRCA1 and BRCA2
- Personal history of triple negative breast cancer
- Personal history of breast cancer at age 50 or younger or any family history of breast cancer
- Personal or family history of ovarian or male breast cancer
- Ashkenazi Jewish heritage with a personal or family history of cancer, especially breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer
While there are always exceptions to risk factors or high risk groups, our goal at The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center is to focus on your health now, taking a proactive approach to personal or family member risks that can be identified and monitored carefully. While each person and each family is unique, there is a genetic history that should all be linked together for the good of each individual’s medical decisions.