Dr. Cuzick Discusses Women at High Risk of Developing Breast Cancer

Jack Cuzick, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, discusses how to determine if a woman is at high risk of developing breast cancer and which of these women should consider taking tamoxifen as a preventative measure.

Jack Cuzick, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, discusses how to determine if a woman is at high risk of developing breast cancer and which of these women should consider taking tamoxifen as a preventative measure.

Cuzick says the three areas that are assessed to determine if someone is at high risk of developing breast cancer are family history, breast density and benign breast lumps. Two breast cancers in the family, or a mother or sister who had breast cancer under the age of 50, more than doubles the risk of developing breast cancer, Cuzick says. Benign breast lumps, such as a-typical hyperplasia or any hyperplastic lesion, carry a 4-to-5-fold risk of developing breast cancer. Women with dense breasts have 4-times the risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who do not have dense breasts, Cuzick says.

Everyone that falls into this group, especially women with benign breast lumps, should be offered tamoxifen as a preventative measure, Cuzick says. By using the mammogram as a chance to review risk of breast cancer in addition to screening for cancer, physicians and patients have a chance to discuss available options that are appropriate.