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Breast Cancer Prevention Program

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The University of Virginia Cancer Center contains one of the only programs in the region geared towards breast cancer prevention. It has been up and running for about a year and a half and doctors say it has already made a huge difference in patient’s lives.

This program is designed for women who have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Whether it is a family history or genetic mutations the doctors can help create a prevention plan. We met one patient who is taking a proactive approach, not only for herself, but also for her daughters.

More than 21 years ago Barbara Lyons fought and won a battle that hundreds of thousands of women face each year. Barbara Lyons said, "I was 29 years old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer."

Because she was so young when she got cancer, Lyons says it caught her off guard. “I felt a lump and I waited for a couple weeks because it was in a particular part of my cycle and I was somewhat knowledgeable at that time of breast cancer, so I waited and it was still there."

Today Lyons travels from her home near Lynchburg to the UVA Cancer Center. Because of her medical history, she is part of a program that helps patients who are at a higher risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer.

Doctors at the cancer center spend a lot of time talking about a patient’s family history. Then, depending upon the risk, they decide on preventative measures which could include medication or even surgery.

Dr. Susan Modesitt said, "To help work with them to identify risks in their family, to discuss whether genetic counseling, to talk about preventative measures, screening, and to customize a care plan so we can be as proactive as possible."

Lyons endured genetic testing to see if she inherited a higher risk, information valuable for herself and for her two daughters. Lyons said, "The conclusions that were drawn on the genetic testing helped to clarify their risks for breast cancer."

Doctor Modesitt says one in seven women will get breast cancer. This program is meant to help women beat the odds.

Reported by Christina Mora
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