Of the more than 30,000 mammograms Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital performs each year, approximately 1,000 women are identified as being at high risk for developing breast cancer. In light of these alarming numbers, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, in conjunction with the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation, felt compelled to provide care and support to these high-risk patients.
Led by physician champions Lynn Dengel, MD; Erika Struble, MD; and Scott Pease, MD, the hospital will soon launch the High-Risk Breast Program. Then, when a woman is identified as high-risk based on her pre-mammogram survey answers, she is immediately informed of that risk following her mammogram and offered the services of Sentara Martha Jefferson’s comprehensive breast nurse navigator.
To help such a patient potentially mitigate those risks, she is then supplied with information and introduced to services such as collaborative genetic and medical specialists, nutrition guidance programs and wellness-focused resources. Individual and group counseling and support also are available, as well as follow-up services through a dedicated nurse practitioner. All of this takes place in partnership with the patient’s primary care or women’s health provider.
“I am proud of the team of physicians and staff leaders who identified this need and are working to make it a reality,” says Sentara Martha Jefferson President Jonathan Davis.
“I am also proud of the Foundation Board for adopting this as a philanthropic priority. We would never be able to support meaningful services like this solely through operations. What a testament to the cooperative spirit that is ultimately for the benefit of our patients.”
This program will require nearly $300,000 in annual philanthropic support to be sustained.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
• Having a personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer, particularly if diagnosed before age 50
• Having personally tested positive for a hereditary breast cancer mutation
• Having a family member who tested positive for a hereditary breast cancer mutation
• Having a male in your family with breast cancer
• Being younger than 12 at the time of your first period
• Starting menopause after age 55
• Having your first child after age 30, or never having had children
• Having two or more benign breast biopsies
• Having a previous breast biopsy showing atypical hyperplasia or carcinoma in situ
• Being overweight after menopause or gaining weight as an adult
• Having more than one drink of alcohol per day
• Being of Ashkenazi Jewish descent
• Having undergone combined estrogen and progesterone hormone replacement therapy
• Having been exposed to large amounts of radiation, such as during treatment for Hodgkin’s disease, at a young age
If you think you may be at high risk for breast cancer and would like to find out, please call the High-Risk Breast Program at 434-654-4483 to speak with our breast navigator.