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Comprehensive Breast Care introduces Ashley Richardson, DO

Published on | Eric Brown

She shares information about high-risk breast cancer screening and management

 Breast surgeon Ashley Richardson, DO, recently joined the Comprehensive Breast Care team. She will see patients in Troy, Clarkston and Flint. Dr. Richardson completed a breast surgical oncology fellowship at McLaren/Karmanos Cancer Institute in Flint, where she was the first graduate of the fellowship program.

She conducted her general surgery residency at Ascension Genesys Hospital in Grand Blanc, and obtained her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. Richardson is a member of the American College of Surgeons/American College of Osteopathic Surgeons, the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association, the Michigan Osteopathic Association and the American Society of Breast Surgeons.

She has a special interest in high-risk breast cancer screening and management.

Here she shares some information on the subject.

All women are at risk for breast cancer, but not all women have the same risk. A woman’s personal and family medical history, genetic tests, lifestyle and exposures, and other factors are used to assess risk and make recommendations for breast screening and risk management. High-risk women benefit from screening and close monitoring to diagnose breast cancer early when it’s more treatable.

Very high-risk women have a 30 percent or greater lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.

This group includes women with:

  • known mutations in a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene or mutations associated with other hereditary cancer syndromes (eg, Li-Fraumeni Syndrome and Cowden Syndrome). It is estimated that 86 percent of women over the age of 20 who have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation are unaware they do.
  • a relative who has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation (parent, brother, sister or child)
  • a family history of breast cancer – the highest risk is parents (maternal and paternal), sister, daughter, brother or son; other relatives – grandparents, aunts and cousins also should be considered

Other high-risk factors include:

  • had radiation therapy to the chest between the ages of 10 and 30
  • have a personal history of breast cancer diagnosed before age 50 (risk is 10 times higher than the average person)
  • had a previous breast biopsy with results showing you are at high-risk
  • dense breast tissue (risk is five times higher than the average person)
  • had prolonged estrogen exposure (no pregnancies, period under 11, menopause over 55)
  • have taken hormone replacement therapy

The #1 risk factor for developing breast cancer is being a woman, followed closely by growing older. Breast cancer risk increases with age; women between the ages of 65 and 80 are at highest risk for breast cancer.

Screening tests

If you are considered high-risk for breast cancer, these steps usually are taken:

  1. monthly self-breast examination starting as early as age 18 – all women should be familiar with the look and feel of their breasts so they can observe any changes or lumps and report them to their physician
  2. a breast examination and evaluation twice a year by a breast surgeon (or another healthcare provider) starting by age 25
  3. a mammogram every year starting at age 30 or younger if there is a family history of breast cancer
  4. a breast MRI every year, typically starting at age 30 or younger if there is a family history of breast cancer
  5. ultrasound (usually in conjunction with an annual mammogram)

genetic testing (when appropriate)

Your breast cancer risk can change yearly depending on your health, family history changes and age. Your physician will discuss this with you during your check up. Women age 75 and older should talk with their health care provider about a breast cancer screening plan that makes sense for them.

When you know how high your risk is, you can begin to think about what steps you may want to consider to help reduce your risk. Discuss the options with your physician to ensure you have all of the information you need to make the best decision for you.

Key points to remember

  • If you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, talk with your doctor to find out how high your risk really is.
  • Finding out you are at high risk for breast cancer is not an emergency. You have time to think carefully about your options.
  • Sometimes women think their risk is higher than it really is. Make sure you talk with your physician and learn about your own personal risk.
  • Most women are not at high risk of developing breast cancer.

– Out of 100 women who are at average risk of developing breast cancer, about 12 will get breast cancer sometime during their lifetime.

– Out of 100 women who have one relative with breast cancer, about 24 will get breast cancer sometime during their lifetime.

– Out of 100 women who have two relatives with breast cancer, about 36 will get breast cancer sometime during their life.

– Out of 100 women who have inherited a breast cancer gene, between 40 and 85 will      get breast cancer sometime during their life.

You cannot prevent breast cancer, however, there are things you can do to help lower your risk such as staying at a healthy weight, staying physically active, and limiting or avoiding alcohol.

Finding breast cancer early and getting state-of-the-art cancer treatment are the most important strategies to prevent deaths from breast cancer. Breast cancers that are found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast and easier to treat successfully.

If you are concerned you may be a high risk, call and schedule a consultation with one of the breast surgeons at Comprehensive Breast Care: Eric Brown, MD; Linsey Gold, DO; or Ashley Richardson, DO. The team will develop a comprehensive screening plan specifically designed for you and your unique situation. It may include: a risk assessment, a clinical breast exam, genetic counseling and education about your risk of developing breast cancer, personalized surveillance plans and prevention strategies. The team at Comprehensive Breast Care uses the latest medical and scientific knowledge combined with the most advanced surveillance and diagnostic methods.

Dr. Richardson is accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment with her, call Comprehensive Breast Care at 248.687.7300.

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