If You Are, Getting Screened and Monitored Regularly is the New Standard of Care for Preventing Cancer
The statistics are sobering—for men and women, the lifetime risk of developing cancer at any site at some point in time is 39 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute. Fortunately, we can test and monitor those at higher risk for certain types of cancer at Valley’s new High Risk Screening & Genetics Clinic (HRSG). More closely monitoring those identified at high risk of cancer is a component of the new standard of preventive care. “Too many people have been falling through the cracks when it comes to cancer,” says Kristine King, MD FACMG and L’Oreal Kennedy, DNP, CNM, ARNP, CBEC, providers at Valley’s HRSG Clinic. “High risk screening and genetic testing can identify your risk. If needed, we can provide regular monitoring and/or medication therapy to help prevent cancer or its recurrence or catch a recurrence early when it’s easier to treat.”
What should you do to prevent cancer?
- Adopt the basics of a healthy lifestyle:
- Maintain a healthy weight (to help the body avoid unhealthy levels of estrogen)
- Avoid smoking
- Limit alcohol use (no more than one drink/day for women; two drinks /day for men)
- Limit exposure to toxic chemicals
- Discuss your personal risk factors with your primary care provider who can refer you to the HRSG Clinic for further testing and possible regular monitoring and/or drug therapy if necessary.
- If you don’t have a provider you see regularly for preventive care, you should consider testing if you meet one of the risk factor criteria below.
What are the risk factors that call for high risk screening and/or genetic testing
- Known genetic mutation in the family
- History of thoracic (chest) radiation prior to age 30
- History of lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS—abnormal cells in the breast’s milk glands)
or atypical hyperplasia (precancerous accumulation of abnormal cells in the breast)
- Personal or family history of cancer prior to age 50
- Personal or family history of rare cancers (male breast cancer, ovarian cancer or triple negative breast cancer)
- Multiple family members with breast or other cancers
Women can do an informal risk assessment at assessyourrisk.org https://www.assessyourrisk.org/
How is high risk screening different?
If you are at a greater risk for cancer, your screening needs to be more frequent. For those at a higher risk for breast cancer, this often means a clinical breast exam every six months—an annual mammogram and an annual MRI.
Is high risk screening and genetic testing expensive?
Genetic counseling visits and screening imaging (mammogram or MRI) are nearly always covered by insurance. If patients have concerns about their own insurance coverage, we will be happy to speak with them and provide appropriate diagnosis and procedure codes prior to their visits. At a patient’s request, any recommended genetic tests or imaging can be pre-authorized prior to being drawn or completed.
For more information, visit valleymed.org/HRSGC.
Questions or to schedule an appointment, call 425.656.5062.