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High Risk Breast Clinic opens at Northwest Community Healthcare

July 29, 2020

All NCH mammogram patients receive risk assessment

“Having a high risk clinic at NCH provides more comprehensive care for breast health,” says Katherine E. Hansen, D.O.

Women from the northwest suburbs living at elevated risk for breast cancer now have access to a hub of prevention and treatment resources at Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH). Earlier this week, NCH opened a High Risk Breast Clinic (880 West Central Road, Suite 5000, Arlington Heights) that uses the latest technology and evidence-based medicine to evaluate patients’ personal and family history.

This High Risk Breast Clinic is designed to empower patients to manage their risk for breast cancer. Understanding their personal risk means prevention and early detection may be possible. NCH’s highly trained team counsels and partners with patients to recommend the best personalized screening and prevention methods available.

According to Katherine E. Hansen, D.O., breast surgeon at NCH, “Having a high risk clinic at NCH provides more comprehensive care for breast health. This allows women to know and understand their lifetime breast cancer risk and empowers them, through personalized risk assessment, education and information from the most up-to-date guidelines, to make decisions regarding screening and prevention of cancer.”

Every woman who comes to an NCH Breast Imaging Center for screening receives a complimentary risk assessment before her mammogram is performed. If the patient is found to have an elevated lifetime risk for developing breast cancer, she will be advised to visit the High Risk Breast Clinic.

Common risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • A family history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • A personal history of ovarian or breast cancer
  • A mother, sister or daughter with a history of breast cancer or known BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • A male relative with breast cancer
  • Atypical cells detected during a breast biopsy
  • Radiation therapy to the chest between the age of 10 and 30 years
  • Dense breasts

At NCH’s High Risk Breast Clinic, patients meet one on one with a fellowship-trained breast surgeon who helps determine their risk of breast cancer.

A clinic visit includes:

  • A clinical breast exam
  • Education about breast self-exams
  • Assessment of breast cancer risk, including risk of carrying a genetic mutation
  • A personalized surveillance plan
  • Prevention strategies, including lifestyle modifications

NCH’s High Risk Breast Clinic team includes fellowship-trained breast surgeons, specially trained nurses and other team members who coordinate scheduling and pre-authorization of diagnostic imaging tests. They also provide referrals for resources and support, such as psychological counseling and nutrition information.

Based on individual risk factors, patients may receive recommendations for additional breast cancer screening or further evaluation with genetic counseling. In some cases, patients may receive referrals to medical oncologists or other specialists to discuss risk-reducing drug therapy or screening recommendations for other types of cancer. Surgical risk reduction strategies also may be discussed.

How to prepare for a visit

  • Bring any breast imaging disks and report results (mammogram, ultrasound, breast MRI) from another healthcare system if outside of NCH facilities
  • Provide information about prior breast biopsies or surgeries, if applicable
  • Bring genetic testing results, if applicable
  • Obtain family’s health history, especially history of any type of cancer and age at diagnosis

Together, patients and our High Risk Breast Clinic team develop a plan customized to each patient’s specific needs and risk factors.

Patients need a referral to the High Risk Breast Clinic from their primary care physician. Call 847-618-3800 to schedule an appointment.