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Beds and Herts Breast Screening Service
Luton and Dunstable NHS Hospital

Family History Screening

Breast cancer is a common disease. Not all women who have a relative with breast cancer have an increased risk of developing breast cancer themselves but some do and it is important that these women are given appropriate increased screening.

The indicators for increased risk are complex. The likelihood that a women’s risk is increased depends very much on which relatives have had breast cancer and at what age they were diagnosed.

NHS guidelines recommend that the NHSBSP should now be responsible for the screening of women who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer due to their family history.

A new designated Family History Clinic commenced at the Breast Screening Centre Luton and Dunstable Hospital in April 2012.

If you think you may be at increased risk of developing breast cancer due to breast cancer having been detected in close members of your family you must discuss this with your GP.

The majority of women who do have a family history of breast cancer do not fall into a high risk category. (Nice Guidelines 2006).

The majority of women that have a relative who has or has had breast cancer are not at a substantially increased risk themselves. (Nice Guidelines 2006).

Those women referred to the family history clinic by their GP will have their risk assessed from the information they provide regarding their family history using a questionnaire through the post.

Those found to be at moderate or high risk are invited for annual screening from age 40-50.

Those found to be at a high risk are also offered referral to the specialist genetic service. And possibly breast screening with MRI.

Management of women in our new Family History Clinic.

Existing Patients

Those women that are already under care for family history at the Beds & Herts Breast Screening Centre will now also be formally assessed and their screening continued if indicated.

New Patients

New family history patients found to be at increased risk after referral by their GP will be offered an appointment at the Breast Screening Centre. They will be counselled by a Breast Physician/Family History Nurse prior to their first mammogram. Ongoing surveillance will be planned according to the individual’s level of risk. Results of the mammograms will be sent at a later date.

If any abnormal features are seen on the mammograms, the individual will be invited to return for an assessment appointment with a clinician at the Beds & Herts Breast Screening Centre for further investigation, which could include additional xrays, an ultrasound and possibly biopsies.

All women will revert to routine three yearly mammograms from the age of 50, except those at very high risk who will have 18 monthly mammograms from age 50 - 60.