High Risk Breast Cancer Care

The Essentia Health High-Risk Breast Cancer Program focuses on helping patients understand their risk for developing breast cancer. After a thorough history, examination and education session, patients and the Breast Health Program Nurse Practitioner partner together to form a personalized plan of care.

Who should be evaluated in the High-Risk Breast Cancer Program?

  • Women who have:
    • Several close relatives on the same side of the family with breast cancer
    • A mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer at age 50 or less
    • Two first degree relatives (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer at any age
    • A close male relative with breast cancer at any age
  • If you or a close family member have an abnormal gene that increases the risk of breast cancer
  • If you have had a breast biopsy with abnormal cells such as, atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH) or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
  • If you have had radiation treatments to the chest area under the age of 30 for Hodgkin's Disease or lymphoma
  • Women who took DES (diethylstilbestrol) in the 1940's to 1960's to prevent miscarriage

What happens during my visit? 

The initial assessment is done in a one-hour appointment with the Breast Health Program Nurse Practitioner. During that appointment, the following takes place:

  • Risk factors are reviewed and breast cancer risk is calculated using tools that predict the 5-year, 10-year and lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
  • A clinical breast exam is performed and breast self-awareness measures are reviewed
  • Imaging is completed as indicated
  • Genetic counseling, breast surgeon or gynecologist evaluations may be recommended and a referral can be made
  • Patient education about breast cancer risk factors, protective factors, early detection, prevention and risk reduction.
  • A mutually agreed upon plan of care is developed

Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk

You can control some of your breast cancer risk factors. To lower your risk of developing breast cancer, make healthy lifestyle choices.

  • Keep a healthy weight
    • Women with a BMI (body mass index) lower than 25 are less likely to develop breast cancer than women with a higher BMI.
  • Make exercise part of your routine
    • Regular exercise decreases a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 10-25%. Aim for moderate physical activity 20-30 minutes/ day, 4 days/week.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink
    • Don't drink more than one alcoholic drink per day. Women who have 2-3 drinks per day have a 20% higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Limit hormone use for symptoms of menopause
    • Hormone therapy with estrogen and progesterone increases the risk of breast cancer. Higher risk is associated with longer use.
  • Breastfeed if you can
    • Breastfeeding for a year or more has been shown to decrease a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
  • Don’t smoke
    • If you smoke, talk with your primary care provider about options for quitting. Smoking increases breast cancer risk especially in long-term, heavy smokers.

Make An Appointment

Duluth Clinic 1st Street Building
Call 218-786-1019 

32nd Avenue Clinic (Fargo)
Call 701-364-8900, option #5

St. Mary's-Detroit Lakes Clinic
Call 218-844-2347

St. Joseph's Medical Center (Brainerd)
You’ll need a referral for this service.

Ask for a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment.