The Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center
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Facts about Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Breast cancer is a common disease affecting approximately one in eight, or 13 percent of women in the United States. Risk for developing breast cancer is dependent upon a combination of lifestyle and certain personal risk factors. The majority of breast cancer cases are sporadic, or due to a random combination of genetic and environmental cancers.

While most women with breast cancer and ovarian cancer develop cancer as a result of non-inherited factors, a small number of women will inherit a significant risk of developing these cancers because of a mutation in a specific gene.

Gene Mutations and Risk Factors

The two genes most commonly associated with an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer are called BRCA1 and BRCA2. Individuals with mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 are at a greater risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Men can also inherit these mutations and have a higher risk for breast cancer than the average man. There also may be an increased risk for several other types of cancer in men and/or women, such as pancreatic, colon and prostate cancer.

Risk Managment Programs at Penn Medicine

When a person is found to be at higher risk for cancer, an individualized cancer risk management program is developed.

Cancer risk management includes more intensive screening to increase the chances of early cancer detection, preventive or risk-reducing surgical procedures and chemoprevention (taking medications to decrease cancer risk). These steps can ultimately reduce the risk of developing cancer and potentially be life-saving.

One Step Ahead: An Education and Support Group for Women at High Risk for Cancer

The One Step Ahead Program is an education and support group for those who are genetically at high risk for certain cancers, such as breast, ovarian, colon or uterine cancer.

Created in 2003, the program is as a way to provide education and support to those at high risk for breast cancer. It is coordinated by Beth Souders, a genetic counselor and the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program (CREP) Coordinator at Pennsylvania Hospital and Helen Coons, PhD, clinical psychologist.

If you are considered at high risk for certain types of cancer, you do not have to cope with this situation on your own.

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Program Benefits

Benefits of the program include networking with others facing similar issues and staying up-to-date on new advances in the field, including information about screening techniques and medications that may help reduce cancer risk.

The group meets three times per year in the evening. Each meeting begins with a light dinner and introductions, followed by a guest speaker and open discussion.

To learn more or to register for the One Step Ahead Program, call 215-829-6528. To learn more, visit the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at Pennsylvania Hospital web site or call 800-789-PENN (7366).

 

 


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Need an appointment? Request one online 24 hours/day, 7 days/week or call 800-789-PENN (7366) to speak to a referral counselor.

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