BRADENTON, FL (BLOOM) — HCA Florida Blake Hospital has rolled out a new genetic cancer risk assessment and screening program, aiming to identify individuals with a heightened risk of developing cancer. The initiative is a significant advancement in the ongoing efforts for early cancer detection.

According to the National Cancer Institute, inherited genetic changes may be responsible for up to 10% of all cancer cases. These genetic variations can significantly increase the risk of developing various types of cancer, including breast and ovarian cancer.

Dr. Philip Blaustein, the hospital’s Chief of Radiology, stated, “Genetic testing is a powerful tool for identifying those at an increased risk of developing cancer either now or later in life. A positive result from the genetic test will lead us to employ more advanced diagnostic techniques to detect cancer at an early stage.”

The program is spearheaded by the Breast Care Center at HCA Florida Blake Hospital. Breast cancer remains the most prevalent form of cancer in the United States and is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. Andrea Buchmeier, Regional Vice President of Cancer Services at HCA Healthcare West Florida Division, noted, “Over 15% of all breast cancer cases have a family history, and more than 5% are due to an inherited gene defect. Being aware of one’s risk is crucial for making informed healthcare decisions.”

Dr. Heidi Emrani, a breast surgical oncologist affiliated with the hospital, emphasized the program’s importance. “Early detection is crucial in combating cancer. Our genetic screening program enables people to take proactive steps in managing their health by identifying potential risks and taking appropriate actions to mitigate them.”

The screening process begins with a brief questionnaire that collects personal and family medical history. Based on this information, the program identifies individuals at an elevated risk of cancer and offers personalized recommendations for further testing. For those deemed high-risk, advanced genetic tests are available to identify potential pathogenic gene variants linked to hereditary cancers.

Dr. Blaustein elaborated on the advanced diagnostic tools used in the program. “If the risk is significantly higher than average, we may employ tests beyond traditional mammography, such as breast MRI or contrast-enhanced mammography. These technologies, coupled with artificial intelligence, provide a more accurate and early detection of cancer.”

Dr. Blaustein also urged women to undergo mammography screenings starting at age 40 and recommended that those with a family history of cancer should consider early genetic assessment.

For more information about the genetic cancer risk assessment and screening program, individuals can visit the HCA Florida Blake Hospital website.

For inquiries, visit HCA Florida Blake Hospital Breast Health.