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High Risk for Breast Cancer?

High Risk for Breast Cancer?

Q: My mother had a mastectomy at age 63 and continues to do well. My sister had a mastectomy (one sentinel node positive) at age 43. My sister and I share a BrCa1 gene mutation, but it is not a standard one, and no one knows what it means. My mom doesn’t have that gene mutation. I had my first child at 34. I have no other risk factors that I know of. Do you think I should be followed with MRIs or standard digital mammography? I really appreciate your answer.

A: If you were my patient, I would consider you at high risk for developing breast cancer based on your family history.

The current recommendations by the American Cancer Society for the use of breast MRI suggest that the breast MRI should be used in any woman with a known BRCA mutation or any woman who has a 20 percent or greater lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting

Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at

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Dr. Brent

As an undergraduate, Dr. Brent Ridge majored in public health and environmental science, studying the way the state of the natural environment impacts our health choices. As a physician, he specializes in the field of aging. Send your health questions to Dr. Brent at


+ add your own
5:11AM PST on Mar 3, 2013

We've got to take good care of ourselves

1:01AM PST on Mar 3, 2013

Thank you :)

7:03PM PST on Mar 2, 2013


3:23AM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

11:08PM PDT on Oct 8, 2012

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, seven hers ago.
Because of early detection and medical advances, she is a survivor who's life was saved. Thanks for your post of such importance...

6:22AM PDT on Oct 8, 2012

Thanks for the artcile.

12:28PM PST on Jan 31, 2012

Good guidance.

2:51AM PST on Dec 11, 2011


12:20AM PST on Dec 8, 2011

Thanks for this info.

3:50PM PDT on May 2, 2011

I had my left breast removed 4yrs ago because of cancer,I was 53 then,I have 1 yr left of hormone tablets to take,I live in hope that i get the "all clear" next year,but i do class myself as a survivor,and very fortunate to still be here with my family

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