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High Risk Program

A Screening Initiative for Those at Increased Breast Cancer Risk

The High Risk Program is a comprehensive breast clinic designed to develop customized risk-management and long-term surveillance plans for high-risk patients. The program adjusts with the needs of each person over time in order to provide: cancer risk assessment, individual screening needs, education regarding modifiable lifestyle risk factors, and measures to prevent cancerous changes and quickly address them should they occur. 

Contact Information

The High Risk Program is available at The Breast Health Centers of Kent and Women & Infants, with a referral from your physician. 

Kent Breast Health Center 
455 Toll Gate Rd 
Warwick, RI 02886 
P: 401-736-4260 

Women & Infants Breast Health Center 
1 Blackstone St #2 
Providence, RI 02905 
P: 401-543-7540 

You may be at elevated risk of developing breast cancer if you have any of the following:

  • Known genetic mutation (BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, PTEN, TP53 etc) 
  • Blood relative of a known genetic mutation carrier 
  • Significant family history, defined by the following:  
    • 3 first degree relatives with breast cancer 
    • Breast cancer diagnosed at age ≤45 or before menopause 
    • Triple Negative breast cancer at age ≤60 
    • Ovarian or pancreatic cancer 
    • Metastatic prostate cancer 
    • Male breast cancer 
  • Lifetime risk of breast cancer ≥15-20% as estimated by a qualified Risk Assessment 
  • Ashkenazi/Eastern European Jewish Individuals 
  • Personal history of radiation treatment to the chest before age 30 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the High Risk Program?

The High Risk Program is a comprehensive breast program designed to develop customized risk-management and long-term surveillance plans for those at increased risk of developing breast cancer. The program adjusts with the needs of each person over time in order to provide: cancer risk assessment/estimate, individual screening needs, education regarding modifiable lifestyle risk factors, and measures to prevent cancerous changes and quickly address them should they occur. 

What is a “Cancer Risk Assessment?”
A cancer risk assessment is a calculation that takes into account personal history, family history and other risk factors in order to provide an estimated chance of developing cancer, in this case breast cancer. It can be performed by a provider using one of several different methods in order to help a patient choose a screening regimen and preventative options that are right for them. 
Where is it?

The High Risk Program is offered at The Breast Health Center at Kent as well as the Breast Health Center at Women & Infants. See contact info for each location below:  

Kent Breast Health Center 
455 Toll Gate Rd 
Warwick, RI 02886 
Phone: 401-736-4260 

Women & Infants Breast Health Center 
1 Blackstone St #2 
Providence, RI 02905 
Phone: 401-543-7540 

What will be done at the first visit?
At the first visit, your provider will review your history in detail and provide an estimate of your breast cancer risk. This will also take into account any prior risk assessment you may have had through your mammogram, genetic testing or other methods and update it to provide the most current and accurate estimate. Based on that risk, you may be offered options for enhanced breast cancer screening in addition to mammograms like MRIs or ultrasounds, genetic counseling for possible testing, and/or management options to help prevent breast cancer going forward as indicated. If after thorough evaluation you are not found to be a high risk of breast cancer, you will be counseled on appropriate measures for people at general population risk of developing breast cancer. 
How do I get an appointment?

Contact your doctor to request a referral to the High Risk Program at your preferred location. Your doctor will fax a referral to the breast health center and once received, the staff will call you to schedule an appointment. If your insurance does not require referrals for subspecialty appointments, you may call the breast health center of your choice where the office will confirm and schedule your appointment. 

The BHC at Kent 
455 Toll Gate Rd 
Warwick, RI 02886 
Phone: 401-736-4260 
Fax: 401-736-4519 

The BHC at Women & Infants 
1 Blackstone St #2 
Providence, RI 02905 
Phone: 401-543-7540 
Fax: 401-453-7785 

Is it a one-time visit or will I continue to be followed there?
At the first visit, your provider will review your history in detail and provide an estimate of your breast cancer risk. Based on that risk, you may be offered options for continued enhanced breast cancer screening in addition to mammograms like MRIs or ultrasounds, genetic counseling for possible testing, and/or management options to help prevent breast cancer going forward. After you chose a regimen that’s right for you, you will be offered to follow at the High Risk Program clinic or follow with your regular doctor if preferred. If after thorough evaluation you are not found to be at high risk of breast cancer, you will be counseled on appropriate measures for people at general population risk of developing breast cancer and will return only on an as-needed basis. 
Can I get genetic testing at the High Risk Program?
As part of your first visit, your provider will evaluate whether you meet the criteria for genetic counseling and/or genetic testing per the National Cancer Center Network (NCCN) Guidelines. If so, you will be offered a visit with one of our genetic counselors to discuss the clinical, emotional, and financial implications of genetic testing as well as the various possible outcomes of testing. If you decide genetic testing is right for you, you will be offered a blood or saliva test at the genetic counselor’s visit.  High Risk Program providers will not provide genetic tests at the first visit without your first speaking with a genetic counselor. 
I got a letter saying I have “Dense Breasts,” what does that mean?
Dense breast tissue is common and found in about 40% of women. The presence of dense breast tissue can make it more difficult to detect cancer in mammograms because it can hide small abnormalities or dense cancers, and is associated with a small increased risk of developing cancer. Your breast density and its associated risk has been taken into account as part of your overall risk assessment. So your overall risk assessment should be the primary guiding factor when you and your doctor consider your screening regimen. 
I got a letter saying I am at elevated risk of breast cancer, what does that mean? Do I have cancer? 
You do not have cancer unless one of your doctors told you otherwise. This does not mean you will develop breast cancer in the future. It does mean that, based on the information you provided in your questionnaire at the time of your visit, your risk of developing breast cancer sometime in your life may be higher than the average person. This information warrants discussion with your doctor or another specialist regarding confirmation of your risk assessment and options to develop a personalized prevention plan. You should discuss your results with your doctor for the next steps. Further evaluation is also available with a provider at The Breast Health Center High Risk Program if desired.