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Strengths and Limitations of Breast Cancer Risk Assessment

Kimberly Baltzell
Margaret R. Wrensch
ONF 2005, 32(3), 605-616 DOI: 10.1188/05.ONF.605-616

Purpose/Objectives: To evaluate current definitions of breast cancer risk and breast cancer risk assessment models, including the Gail, Claus, and BRCAPRO models, and discuss potential markers to enhance and standardize individual risk assessment.

Data Sources: Published articles, conference proceedings, and textbooks.

Data Synthesis: Defining high risk for breast cancer development is explored, and options for high-risk women are discussed. The risk factors frequently used for risk evaluation, including age, age at menarche, age at first live birth, past history of breast biopsy, family history of breast cancer, and the presence of atypical hyperplasia, are reviewed.

Conclusions: Current models of breast cancer risk assessment are limited. Exploring the progression from healthy tissue to malignancy through techniques such as fine needle aspiration, ductal lavage, and nipple aspiration may lead to more precise individualized risk prediction.

Implications for Nursing: More accurate information regarding personal breast cancer risk is necessary. Oncology nurses may facilitate the use of appropriate tools that provide the most individualized risk assessment.

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