Cancer Prevention

Predict. Preempt. Prevent.

Having a genetic mutation or a strong family history that increases your cancer risk does not mean you will get cancer.

There are several things that you can do to lower or manage your cancer risk that include:

  • Tests that may benefit you. You may need to be tested earlier and more often than the average risk person.
  • Medication that could reduce your cancer risk.
  • Risk-reducing surgery.
  • Making healthy choices.

REDUCE YOUR RISK

I. INCREASED SURVEILLANCE

Regular screening, can help find cancers at the earliest possible stage, or even in the precancerous stage. With screening, you can stop cancer before it starts or progresses. Examples of increased surveillance are:

  • Mammograms starting at age 30, instead of age 40.
  • Annual Breast MRI’s starting at age 30.
  • Twice yearly clinical breast exams.
  • Colonoscopy more frequently and starting 10 years younger than the youngest family member with colorectal cancer
  • Upper GI screening for gastric cancer.
  • Dermatologic exams twice yearly.
  • Prostate screenings more frequently and earlier.
  • Pancreatic screenings with endoscopic ultrasound or MRI (MRCP).

II. MEDICATION FOR RISK REDUCTION

SERMs (Selective Estrogen-Receptor Modulators) are a specific type of medicine that modulates how cells respond to estrogen.

The USPSTF (United States Preventative Task Force) recommends that clinicians engage in shared, informed. decision-making with women who are at an increased risk for breast cancer about medications to reduce their risk. For women who are at an increased risk for breast cancer and a low risk for adverse medication effects, clinicians should offer to prescribe risk reducing medication such as tamoxifen or raloxifene.

The USPSTF found adequate evidence that treatment with tamoxifen or reloxifene can significantly reduce the relative risk (RR) for invasive ER-positive breast cancer and women who are at an increased risk.

The use of medications to prevent, suppress or-reverse cancer presents an opt10n worth considering in women who are at an increased risk. For those women who are not surgical candidates for breast cancer risk reduction, chemoprevention can be an important component of a comprehensive risk reduction strategy.

Oral Contraceptives can be used specifically to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. By taking birth control pills for 5 years- even non-consecutively- in your 20s and 30s can reduce your ovarian cancer risk by nearly half. You may have heard that taking birth control can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Many studies have shown that the increased risk of breast cancer risk related to birth control pills is very low- if it exists at all- and is not associated with the most commonly used low-dose birth control pills.

Aspirin taken daily can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 40%. It also helps prevent the return of advanced colon polyps.

III. RISK-REDUCING SURGERY

Many young women who are at high risk for breast, ovarian and uterine cancer decided together with their medical team to have one or more risk-reducing surgeries. This kind of operation removes body tissue most likely to be at risk for cancer and can be done on both breast and ovarian tissue.

These surgeries can never give you 100% protection from cancer because if’s impossible to remove every single breast and ovarian cell. But, they can significantly reduce your chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer. This is a big, and very personal, decision, so be sure to lean as much as you can, and discuss all options with your health care provider.

It’s also important to follow through with increased screening recommendations fo high risk women if you’re deciding not to have risk-reducing surgery, or until you do.

Some women who are at high risk for developing breast cancer have their breast tissue surgically removed though a prophylactic (or risk-reducing) mastectomy. Studies show you can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by 95% and you have options for reconstructive surgery afterward.

To make the best decision about whether to have a prophylactic mastectomy, you should understand your options for breast reconstruction. This surgery can closely rebuild the natural shape of your breast – though not exactly. It’s also important to understand that breast reconstruction is a major surgery that includes a series of surgeries. You and your health provider should work together to make decisions about the best procedure for you, including whether to use saline or silicone implants, or borrow tissue from somewhere else in your body.