Genetic Screening for Inherited Cancer


What if you knew you would get cancer and the exact type of cancer you would get? For some people, that knowledge can be gained through genetic testing for cancer, allowing them to take steps to prevent the cancer, or at least catch it early.

This type of testing looks for mutations in the genes a person was born with – mutations that researchers now know put a person at high risk of developing certain types of cancer. Often people with these mutated genes have relatives who have developed cancer younger than expected. Read More

3D Mammography: Fighting Breast Cancer with New Tools

Harriet Borofsky, M.D., medical director of the Mills-Peninsula Women's Center, reviews mammograms using  3D mammography, also called tomosynthesis.

Harriet Borofsky, M.D., medical director of the Mills-Peninsula Women’s Center, reviews mammograms using 3D mammography technology, also called tomosynthesis.

Every year more than 200,000 American women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Women whose cancer is detected early by mammogram are less likely to die of the disease. Studies indicate there are 30 to 40 percent fewer deaths among women screened with mammography. But traditional mammograms can’t detect all tumors, and some are hidden behind overlapping breast tissue. 3D mammography is changing that. Read More

Reduce Cancer Risk: Change Your Diet


Researchers estimate that one-third of cancer deaths are due to diet and lack of physical activity – nearly as many as caused by tobacco. In fact, for Americans who don’t smoke, eating the right foods and getting exercise are the most important things they can do to prevent cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Studies have shown numerous connections between food and certain cancers. High-fat dairy is associated with prostate cancer. Red meat and processed meats are linked to colon and rectal cancer. Alcohol directly causes cancers of the mouth, throat and liver, and it raises a woman’s risk for breast cancer.

So you might ask: If certain foods help cause cancer, can changing your diet lower your cancer risk? Absolutely, says Jennifer Brown, M.D., a Mills-Peninsula oncologist. While your genetics and environment also influence your cancer risk, your diet is a key factor you can control.

Want to reduce your cancer risk? Follow these recommendations from Dr. Brown and Debbie Kurzrock, R.D., a Mills-Peninsula registered dietitian who works in Radiation Oncology at the Dorothy E. Schneider Cancer Center in San Mateo.

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Sharing Breast Cancer Advances with India

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, throughout October we’ll be posting a series of stories about breast cancer prevention, treatment and survivors.

Mamatha Chivukula, M.D., is a breast cancer pathologist at Mills-Peninsula Health Services, located in one of the most medically sophisticated regions of one of the most medically advanced nations in the world.

She knows that testing the molecular structure of a tumor can save some women from unnecessary chemotherapy. She knows that some women with high-risk lesions can prevent breast cancer from ever developing if they take tamoxifen preventatively.

Yet she also knows that most women with breast cancer in her home country, India, will die from breast cancer, because the advances we take for granted in the U.S. aren’t widely available there.

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Breast Cancer: Are You At Risk?

Women wearing pink for breast cancer awareness month

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, throughout October we’ll be posting a series of stories about breast cancer prevention, treatment and survivors.

Approximately one in eight women in the United States will get breast cancer during her lifetime. In fact, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, after skin cancer. So what can you do about it?

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Certain personal, family history or lifestyle factors can increase your risk of getting breast cancer. These risk factors include:

  • Having a mother, sister or daughter who had breast cancer
  • Inherited gene defects such as the Breast Cancer (BRACA) 1 and 2 genes
  • Prior biopsies showing precancerous findings
  • Dense breast tissue, as shown on a mammogram
  • Being overweight or obese after menopause
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Hormone replacement treatment for longer than five years Read More

New Ways to Fight Breast Cancer

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, throughout October we’ll be posting a series of stories about breast cancer prevention, treatment and survivors.

Angelina Jolie surprised the world when she had a preventative double mastectomy. Yet she had strong reasons to do so. She inherited the rare BRCA1 gene, which her doctors estimated gave her an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer. By having surgery, she minimized her risk of developing the disease.

While this course of action is relatively new in the fight against breast cancer, it’s not the only one changing the way experts treat and prevent the disease. Doctors at Sutter Health affiliates Mills-Peninsula Health Services and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation say four key developments in recent years are reshaping the course of treatment for women who have breast cancer, or who are at risk for breast cancer.

Harriet Borofsky, M.D.

Harriet Borofsky, M.D.

“The whole way in which we manage, treat and take care of breast cancer patients today is hugely different,” says Harriet Borofsky, M.D., medical director of the Mills-Peninsula Women’s Center. Here are the latest advances in breast cancer care.

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