Breast cancer is a leading medical issue for individuals nationwide. Having risk assessment models in place is the best way to provide an early warning system in an effort to offer better medical treatments and help prolong life spans.
What does it mean to be “High-Risk” for Breast Cancer?
There are three risk categories: average risk, intermediate risk, and high risk. Woman classified as “high-risk” are more likely to develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. If a woman is considered high-risk, their doctor may recommend additional testing beyond an annual screening mammogram such as a breast MRI. Consider the differences between the two commonly used risk assessment tools and where they differ, and where their purpose lies.
What is the Tyrer-Cuzick Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool?
This risk assessment tool is designed to provide women with figures related to their chances of developing breast cancer within the next ten years and throughout their lifetime. It figures the likelihood of having some specific gene mutations known for causing cancer development. It’s important to note that this risk assessment tool can’t predict if the patient develops cancer, only the potential chance by giving a percentage figure based on personal details including family history and lifestyle. The figures given at the test completion are the percentages of risk of development over a lifetime and within the next 10 years.
The average percentage for risk is currently less than a 15% score for the Tyrer-Cuzik model. Intermediate risk is between 15% and 19%. Anyone who is classified over 20% is considered to be at high risk of developing breast cancer. There is an online version of this risk assessment tool that provides this information conveniently.
What is the Gail Model?
This model differs from the Tyrer-Cuzick breast cancer risk assessment tool in that it provides the outlook for developing invasive breast cancer over a specified time frame. This model was named for Dr. Mitchell Gail, the NCI Division of Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics senior investigator.
This model takes into consideration various pieces of information about the individual, including basic life statistics, ancestry, cancer in the family, and more. This model has tested different ethnic groups and provides higher accuracy for white women than black or Pacific Islander women. This model measures BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. However, despite the baritone for accuracy among different ethnic groups, this model is thought to be highly accurate in contrast to other models with a tendency to underestimate breast cancer risk.
Differences in the Models
In instances of predicting risk in women who have a higher familial cancer history, the Tyrer-Cuzick is likely the most appropriate choice. This is because the Gail model has a tendency to underestimate risk of developing breast cancer in women with familial history of cancer. The findings of both models show a significant risk increase for individuals who are obese in any age group. For example, the risk rises from 0.8% for the 35-39 age group to 1.5% for 65-69 years. However, the Tyrer-Cuzick model presented the highest degree of accuracy for potentially developing breast cancer.
The Importance of Using Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tools
One of the most prominent health risks today is breast cancer, specifically for women. The development and use of these tools are a great stride toward helping predict the likelihood of developing cancer throughout a woman’s lifetime. Both tools are insightful with their details but used together; they can help provide more insight into risk factors and help the individual understand the importance of regular screenings. Using these models to predict risk, combined with close supervision of an OBGYN or specialist, cancer can be detected earlier, which gives the woman a better chance of fighting it successfully.
- Performance of the Gail and Tyrer-Cuzick breast cancer risk assessment models in women screened in a primary care setting with the FHS-7 questionnaire