By Dr. Mallika Marshall

PEABODY (CBS) – Many women have an increased risk of breast cancer and don’t even know it. But one local hospital is offering a new tool to women undergoing routine mammograms that helps them assess their risk.

“My sibling and I joke we have cancer on mom’s side,” said 46-year-old Gia Leach of Lynnfield. “We’re just wondering what kind it’s going to be that’s going to get to us.”

Leach has a strong family history of cancer, including breast, so she’s good about getting her routine mammograms. She had her last one in February.

“When I checked in they said they had something new now and they gave me a tablet and said if I wanted to I could go through the questionnaire,” Leach said. “I thought it was going to be kind of fun.”

Cancer risk assessment app (WBZ-TV)

The breast cancer risk assessment app asks women a series of questions like how many times have you been pregnant, have you used birth control pills, and which relatives have had cancer?

“When I had gone through it I was kind of surprised. I was like right, there’s that person in my family. Oh and there’s that person in my family,” Leach explained.

Breast surgeon Rebecca Yang is the director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center program at Lahey Health.

“There are a lot of women out there who may have a risk for having one of the BRCA 1 or 2 mutations,” Dr. Yang said. “I call them the Angelina Jolie genes that they don’t know about. And so this program has been implemented to help women identify their risks and be more proactive.”

Dr. Rebecca Yang and Gia Leach (WBZ-TV)

The app crunches the data and spits out a woman’s lifetime chances of getting breast cancer and if there is a possible genetic risk.

Since January, the program has identified 500 women who should see a genetics counselor and another 2,000 who would benefit from further consultation with a breast specialist.

Gia was one of those women. She doesn’t need any further testing right now but was told to check in again when she’s 50.

“It’s just going to be more information. It may not be something that you need to address in that point in time. It’s better to know earlier rather than later.”

The breast cancer risk assessment program has been rolled out at centers across Lahey Health including in Peabody.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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