Published on November 28, 2016

High Risk Breast Clinic helps patients avoid advanced breast cancer

Eileen Williams, PA-C

Eileen Williams, PA-C

If you have patients at heightened risk for breast cancer due to family history, personal risk factors or an identified gene mutation, consider referring them to the High Risk Breast Clinic at Gundersen Health System.

The clinic, led by Gundersen Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders physician assistant Eileen Williams, PA-C, is designed to closely monitor patients and help reduce their chances of developing advanced breast cancer.

"We provide patients with personalized screening recommendations, based on their estimated lifetime breast cancer risk, to potentially identify a breast cancer at an early, more curable stage of disease. In addition, we discuss risk reduction options to reduce the chance of developing breast cancer," states Eileen.

Patients with any of these risk factors may be referred:

  • Estimated lifetime risk of breast cancer is greater than or equal to 20 percent (identified by at least one risk model: Gail, IBIS, Claus, BRCAPRO).
  • Strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer (if calculated breast cancer risk is unknown).
  • Prior thoracic (also called chest or mantle) radiation in a female between the ages of 10-30.
  • Breast biopsy showing atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH) or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS).
  • An identified BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
  • Other identified gene mutations (ATM, CDH1, CHEK2, PALB2, PTEN, STK11 and TP53). Some genes are associated with genetic syndromes such as Hereditary Diffuse Gastric syndrome (CDH1), Cowden syndrome (PTEN), Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (STK11) and Li-Fraumeni syndrome (TP53).

"If you think a patient may benefit from seeing a genetic counselor, consider a referral to our Cancer-Related Genetic Counseling Services team. Sometimes patients are referred to genetic counseling after a visit in the High Risk Breast Clinic if potential genetic testing is warranted," explains Eileen.

An initial consult in the High Risk Breast Clinic includes the following:

  • Assessment of the patient's risk of breast cancer.
  • Discussion of screening recommendations personalized for the patient's risk.
  • Discussion of risk reduction options including healthy lifestyle choices, medical risk reduction (prescription medication) and surgical risk reduction (bilateral prophylactic mastectomy).

New consultations are scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons in the Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders, Level 2 of the East Building in La Crosse. Follow-up appointments can be scheduled any day of the week. Patients will be billed for either a new outpatient consultation or follow-up visit based on the level of service.

To make a referral or ask questions, call Gundersen via MedLink at (800) 336-5465 and ask for the High Risk Breast Clinic.

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