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News
10/15/2013
UCHealth develops Facebook tool to assess breast cancer risk.

For immediate release: October 15, 2013

Contact:
Dave Rizzotto, 970.237.7105, dave.rizzotto@uchealth.org 

 

The new UCHealth tool is based on an assessment application used by the National Cancer Institute.

 

 UCHealth develops Facebook tool to assess women’s breast cancer risk.

In addition, breast cancer specialists offer advice on how a woman can better understand mammogram guidelines, dispelling myths and fears.

In support of October’s national Breast Cancer Awareness month, University of Colorado Health launched an easy-to-use Facebook application to help women assess their risk of breast cancer.

The tool takes less than a minute to complete and can be found at myriskofcancer.org.

The tool is based on the National Cancer Institute’s breast cancer risk assessment algorithm. It was originally designed for use by health professionals. UCHealth decided to offer the tool and other educational resources to empower women to take control of their health.

“The intent of this assessment is to be a conversation starter between a woman and her doctor,” said Dr. Regina Brown, medical oncologist at UCHealth’s Fort Collins and Loveland cancer care clinics.

The tool asks users seven questions about ethnicity, age, family history of breast cancer and other issues. Both five-year and lifetime risk of having breast cancer are displayed on a secure webpage. Users have the options to email themselves the results and share the tool with others. The health information is not stored anywhere, so the only person who knows it is the woman who filled out the assessment.

“It should be clear that the model can estimate your risk, but it cannot tell whether you will get breast cancer,” said Dr. Ann Stroh, medical oncologist at UCHealth’s Loveland and Fort Collins cancer care clinics. “It’s not meant to be definitive as the tool does not use all the known risk factors for breast cancer.”

UCHealth created videos to dispel common fears of mammography and to show that healthy women without symptoms get diagnosed with breast cancer every day.  In one video, a patient wears a GoPro helmet camera to share her mammography experience at the UCHealth Breast Diagnostic Center in Fort Collins.

In another video, Cindy Lewis, a local fitness instructor, shares how her journey with breast cancer was complicated because she had elected not to get a mammogram.

“I had none of the risk factors that you would expect,” said Lewis.  “I was a non-smoker, non-drinker. I was in very good shape. I was at a healthy weight. I ate healthy.”

Had her cancer been detected early, she “would have had the option to have maybe just a lumpectomy and radiation rather than radical surgery and chemotherapy,” she said.

The videos can be viewed at http://pvhs.org/breast-care.

Recommendations for when a woman should receive mammograms became a hot topic four years ago. At that time, the U.S. Preventive Task Force published new recommendations calling for women from 50 to 75 years old to undergo screenings every two years.

The previous commonly followed recommendation was an annual mammogram for women 40 and older, a recommendation still supported by The American Cancer Society and the UCHealth Breast Diagnostic Centers in Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland.

Dr. Brown shares her clinical experience in her “Mammogram Recommendations and Controversy”  article so women can better understand mammogram guidelines.

 

 

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