Women at hereditary risk of breast cancer face a difficult clinical decision. Each of the options available to them has unique advantages and disadvantages that are summarized in Table 9. Many components enter a high- risk woman's decision: her objective risk of breast cancer; clinical features, such as the consistency of breast tissue and resultant ease of examination; breast density on mammography; personal characteristics, including her experience with cancer within her family; her role and responsibilities within her own nuclear family; her values and goals; her experiences with the medical system; and her subjective assessment of risk. It is generally believed that women significantly overestimate their risk of breast cancer. Thus, it is vital that a woman at risk have access to a genetic counselor who can provide accurate assessment of her risk. Women should be encouraged to take time to understand their risk level and the advantages and disadvantages of the options before them.
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