Risk Assessment Tools

Several risk assessment tools, with names such as the Gail model, the Claus model, and the Tyrer-Cuzick model, are available to help the health professionals at Providence Saint John’s estimate a woman's breast cancer risk. These tools give approximate, rather than precise, estimates of breast cancer risk based on different combinations of risk factors and different data sets. As a result, they may give different risk estimates for the same woman.

The Gail model – your lifetime risk of developing breast cancer

This model bases its risk estimates on certain personal risk factors, like current age, age at menarche (first menstrual period) and history of prior breast biopsies, along with any history of breast cancer in first-degree relatives.

The Claus model – your genetic risk of developing breast cancer

This estimates risk based on family history of breast cancer in both first and second-degree relatives. The Claus model and the Gail model can easily give different estimates using the same data. Results are discussed between you and your doctor before deciding whether or not to start MRI screening.

The Tyrer-Cuzick model

This model is the most comprehensive risk assessment model currently available and takes into consideration both personal risk factors and family history beyond first degree relatives alone. This model determines lifetime risk for breast cancer development and risk of being a BRCA carrier.

For women considered at high risk for lifetime development of breast cancer based on one of the risk assessment models, screening MRI’s are recommended as a part of their screening regimen.

While the American Cancer Society believes the use of mammograms and MRI (in women at high risk) for breast cancer screening; regular clinical breast exams, breast self-examinations, and finding and reporting breast changes early also offer women the best chance to reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer.

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The above calculator is intended only as a guideline. Please see your Providence Saint John’s Margie Petersen Breast Center surgeon or cancer-risk assessment and prevention physician to determine your risk of developing breast cancer by selecting from the list of our providers.