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Having additional knowledge can never be a bad thing, especially when it comes to detecting breast cancer.
St. Clair Health announced it is providing the Tyrer-Cuzick Risk Assessment Calculator, a tool utilized to gather information on a patient from personal history to breast density and mammogram images. The information is then used to determine the likelihood a woman will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
“Identifying these patients earlier helps us to catch their cancers earlier and gives them a better chance of survival,” said Dr. Raye J. Budway, director of breast surgical services for St. Clair Health Center. “This is about helping you understand where you are so we can get you where you need to go.”
According to breastcancer.org, the Tyrer-Cuzick tool assesses breast cancer risk based on a woman’s answers to questions such as the age of her first period, height, weight, childbearing history, family history of breast cancer, menopausal status, and any use of hormone replacement therapy.
Women who may be at high risk are typically identified through family history. Additional data can lead to more patients being identified, Budway said.
The Tyrer-Cuzick Risk Assessment Calculator is also being used for women undergoing early-stage detection and treatment for breast cancer, according to St. Clair Health, the parent organization of St. Clair Hospital, St. Clair Medical Group and St. Clair Health Foundation.
The results can be used by a team of specialists to develop care plans. The tool will be administered for every patient who comes for a screening mammogram. The timing of St. Clair’s announcement about the tool coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
It is important for a health team to be involved to offer advice and options, Budway said, because there are better outcomes when caught early.
Dr. Bibianna A. Klepchick, director of breast imaging at St. Clair Health, who is partnering with Budway, said the goal is to give women who are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer clinical support, along with tools to keep a closer eye on their breast health.
“By identifying these patients, we hope to catch their cancers earlier, giving them a much better chance of survival,” Klepchick said in a statement. “This valuable screening tool is already available for patients, and we’re also in the process of launching a clinical program that’ll include a breast care specialist who follows each high-risk patient and participates in their care.”
Klepchick said those at high risk could also add a yearly screening breast MRI to the routine annual mammogram.
“The goal is also to improve care, we know that time-to-treatment is directly linked to survival, so we already work really hard to meet and exceed the standards,” said Klepchick. “But if we can reduce it even further, we can improve their outcome, and aligning our evidenced-based practices by talking about it together and sharing the latest data, that can only improve their care.”
Budway said the risk calculator tool is the next level of care and will help doctors continue to elevate cancer care and give patients the best possible care close to home.
When women generally come in for their annual screening mammogram, there isn’t a consistent practice or risk assessment, said Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, a professor and a consultant in the breast diagnostic clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minn.
She said like many other institutions across the world, the Mayo Clinic is able to access the online tool to calculate breast cancer risk. Results provide family history, previous breast biopsies and a screening report so doctors can determine if an MRI is needed.
“We can then talk with the patient and determine if she is high risk,” Pruthi said.
If the score shows high risk, doctors and patients need to be cautious and consider other factors, Pruthi said. You don’t want a woman to decide she wants to have a mastectomy when she might not have needed to do that. Some women may be high risk and live past what the numbers are predicting, Pruthi said.
“I tell her she has outlived the milestone and lessened her risk,” Pruthi said. “It is about education so we can determine the high-risk women.”
A study has found that the Tyrer-Cuzick breast cancer risk assessment tool is accurate for at least 19 years. The research was published in 2018 by JAMA Oncology.
“We are always looking for new ways to deliver care to our patients at the St. Clair Hospital Breast Care Center,” said Budway. “We balance being on the cutting edge technologically with providing proven, safe methods for treating breast cancer.”