New Intermountain Healthcare risk assessment survey helps identify women at high risk of developing breast cancer

New Intermountain Healthcare risk assessment survey helps identify women at high risk of developing breast cancer

(Juice Flair/

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Women who receive their annual mammogram at Intermountain Healthcare now have the opportunity to take a risk assessment survey to determine their risk of developing breast cancer.

The goal is to better identify women who're at high risk of developing breast cancer to potentially undergo additional screenings to more effectively determine their risk of developing cancer.

The specialized questionnaire is a risk-assessment calculator that measures a woman's 10-year and lifetime risk for developing breast cancer based on family medical history, density of breast tissue, and genealogy.

"In the past we mostly used family history to determine risk, but now we have a host of different data points to more accurately measure a woman's overall risk of breast cancer," said Eugene Kim, MD, a radiologist at the Intermountain Breast Care Center in Murray. "This is another tool we have to help women catch breast cancer early and increase survival rates."

Who is eligible?

Women who score a 20 or higher on their assessment are considered to be at high risk for breast cancer. It also makes them eligible for a breast MRI scan, which is more sensitive and better at detecting abnormalities in the breast tissue.

Those considered high risk for breast cancer are also eligible for abbreviated MRI, which only takes 10 minutes and costs considerably less than a traditional MRI screening.

For now, it's only available at Intermountain Breast Care Center in Murray. Next year, the service will expand to more Intermountain hospitals in Utah.

Cathy Graham, 61, is one of those patients who recently took the assessment survey, which confirmed she is at high risk for developing breast cancer.

Graham always assumed she was at higher risk because her mother and sister had breast cancer, but in taking the survey she discovered other things also increased her risk.

"It's good that I'm eligible for breast MRI because my sister had dense breast tissue and they likely would have caught her cancer earlier if she had access to the screening," said Graham. "While it can be scarier being at higher risk for breast cancer it's a good reminder to be vigilant about screening."

Doctors say breast MRI scans won't replace the need for an annual mammogram because they can still detect some cancers better.

In the United States, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Utah still has one of the lowest mammogram screening rates in the nation. Survival rates have increased dramatically in recent decades thanks to an increase in annual screenings.

What are some of the questions on the risk assessment survey?

Some questions include:

• What is your age?

• What is your height?

• Have you had a menstrual period?

• Have you given birth to more than one child?

• Have you ever used hormone replacement therapy?

• Have you had a breast biopsy?

To schedule a mammogram screening at an Intermountain facility near you, call 801-507-7840, or visit

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