High-Risk Screening

Why high-risk screenings are important

The High-Risk Clinic helps women understand and manage their risk for breast cancer. By gaining a more accurate estimate of your personal risk, you may increase the chance of early cancer detection through an individualized screening plan.

There are many factors to be considered to determine your risk for breast cancer and our medical team and genetic counselors are experienced in evaluating your personal family and medical history. The following criteria could indicate that you may be at higher risk for developing breast cancer.

  • You have tested positive for a gene mutation that increases risk of breast cancer development, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2
  • You have a family member who was diagnosed with breast cancer:

- 1st degree relative (parent, sibling or child)
- Multiple 2nd/3rd degree relatives (aunt or uncle, grandparent, niece or nephew, cousin)

  • You had atypical cells detected during a breast biopsy
  • You had previous chest wall radiation for cancer

What to Expect

During a high-risk screening appointment, you will learn about what watchful (also called surveillance) care is appropriate for your particular situation. You will also hear about possible preventive or risk-reduction strategies. 


What We Offer

The Vanderbilt Breast Center offers a weekly clinic specifically for evaluation and follow-up of these individuals. Patients may be referred for high-risk screening by a physician or may call the Breast Center directly (self referral) to set up an appointment. For women with a greater than 20 percent lifetime risk, we offer breast MRI and mammography screenings. 

In addition to the services offered by the high-risk clinic at the breast center, you may also be referred for a consultation at the Vanderbilt Hereditary Cancer Clinic of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. This service offers assessments and testing options for several hereditary cancer syndromes, including melanoma and ovarian, breast and colon cancer. For more information about the Vanderbilt Hereditary Cancer Clinic, call (615) 322-2064 or toll-free at 1-877-688-7555.