Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Program

The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Program at Lowell General Hospital brings together a multidisciplinary team of breast surgeons, breast health nurse practitioners, medical oncologists, and breast imaging radiologists to discuss recommendations for risk-based breast screening. Together, they help develop a personalized plan to help you manage risk factors for the disease.

Our experts will: 

  • Review your family history and other risk factors
  • Provide individualized risk assessment
  • Perform a clinical breast exam and instruct you in breast self-exam
  • Discuss and offer genetic testing if applicable
  • Provide individualized cancer prevention and screening information

Our nurse practitioners will schedule appropriate imaging follow-up and monitoring following National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and American College of Radiology (ACR) guidelines. Our team communicates directly with patients’ primary care physicians to ensure everyone is informed and involved.

Who is at High Risk for Breast Cancer?

All women are at risk for developing breast cancer. A woman with average risk has a 1 in 8 chance or 12% risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Some women have personal or family risk factors that increase their lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. If a woman is assessed at high risk, she has a 20% or greater chance of developing breast cancer over her lifetime. Our program is designed to help women improve these odds.

Risk factors for Breast Cancer Include:

  • Age – women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer as they get older
  • Family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Prior radiation to the chest
  • A history of gene mutation
  • Reproductive and menstrual history
  • Certain pathology found on a breast biopsy
  • Lifestyle factors

Services and Treatments

  • Genetic testing referrals
  • Breast cancer risk reduction medications when indicated
  • Nutrition education and support
  • Breast Screening

Genetic Testing

Referrals for genetic counseling and testing  are available when appropriate through the  Genetics Division of Tufts Medical Center.  Our team works closely with the Tufts Genetics team to provide quality genetic evaluation.  

Meet the Team

Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Team
Lowell General Hospital’s Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Program is led, from left, by Jennifer Gilliatt, NP, Breast Health Nurse Practitioner; Dr. Lerna Ozcan, Medical Director and Breast Surgical Oncologist; Dr. Anasuya Gunturi, Associate Medical Director, Cancer Care Associates; Kelly McAllister, NP, Breast Health Nurse Practitioner; and Dr. Jill Steinkeler, Director of Breast Imaging.

Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Program Physicians

Anasuya Gunturi

Anasuya Gunturi MD, PhD

Breast Health Nurse Practitioners

Our breast health Nurse Practitioners see high-risk patients in our Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Program.  

 

What You Need to Know About Your Breast Cancer Risk Assessment

Dr. Jill Steinkeler, Medical Director of Breast Imaging at Lowell General Hospital, discusses the importance of yearly mammograms and knowing your personal risk assessment. 

3D Screening Mammography (Tomosynthesis) is the only imaging test that has been proven to save lives from breast cancer. The goal of mammography is to find cancers that can be detected early, before a woman has symptoms, when the cancer is most treatable.

All women have some risk of developing Breast Cancer during their lifetime, but not all women have the same risk. Physicians and Advanced Practice Clinicians use a woman’s personal history, family history, age, reproductive history, genetic testing results, breast tissue density, and other factors to determine risk.

The Breast Imaging Department at Tufts Medicine Lowell General Hospital uses special computer software that performs a breast cancer risk assessment and calculates your estimated lifetime risk of developing breast cancer at the time of your mammogram. It is a benefit that you normally don’t find in a community hospital setting.

Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Program

All women have some risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime, but not all women have the same risk. Recommendations for breast screening and managing risk are made based on your breast cancer risk score.

Your risk assessment result will be included in your mammography report that is available on the myTuftsMed patient portal, mailed to you as part of the patient result letter, and provided to your physician/advanced practice clinician. Your breast cancer risk will be assessed as average, intermediate (middle) or high risk.

Most women are at average risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime (<15%). Women at average risk should have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 and a clinical breast exam every year.


Women who are assessed as having intermediate risk of developing breast cancer have a lifetime risk of 15-19%. Based on current guidelines, women at intermediate risk should have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 and a clinical breast exam every year.

A small number of women are at high risk for developing breast cancer during their lifetime. High risk means a woman has at least a 20% risk of developing breast cancer over her lifetime. Women at high risk may have one or several of the following risk factors: family history of breast cancer, certain pathology found on a biopsy that increases the risk of breast cancer, positive genetic testing results, dense breast tissue (usually in combination with other risk factors), personal history of radiation exposure to the chest or other risk factors.

Women at high risk should have a mammogram every year (often times starting before age 40), a clinical breast examination every 6-12 months, consideration of annual screening breast MRI and a discussion with their physician or healthcare provider about their risk assessment result and the option of scheduling an appointment with the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Program at Lowell General Hospital. The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Program at Lowell General Hospital is an outpatient office based multidisciplinary clinic offering a personalized plan for breast cancer screening and risk reduction strategies for our patients.

Schedule your mammogram today at 978-937-6062. For more information about the Breast Cancer Risk
Assessment Program visit www.lowellgeneral.org/breasthealth.

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