breast cancer1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. While you can’t necessarily prevent breast cancer, you can take steps that may help lower your chances of getting it. Many factors impact your risk—some you can control, and some you can’t, and genetics is a good example. Here are some basics you can control.

Maintain a healthy weight

Several studies indicate that women who are overweight or obese after menopause have a 30 to 60 percent higher breast cancer risk than those who are lean.


A study from the Women’s Health Initiative found that:

  • 1¼ to 2½ hours per week of brisk walking reduced a woman’s risk by 18%.
  • Walking 10 hours a week reduced the risk a little more.

Limit alcohol intake

Compared with non-drinkers, women who consume:

  • 1 alcoholic drink daily have a very small increase in risk.
  • 2 to 5 drinks daily have about 1½ times the risk.

Know your family history

It’s a useful guide in making screening and prevention decisions. Your risk is:

  • Greater if you have a blood relative (such as a grandmother) who has had breast cancer.
  • Almost double if you have a 1st degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) who has had breast cancer.
  • Possibly greater if you have a father or brother (1st degree) who has had breast cancer.

Have regular screenings

It’s important to find breast cancer early when it’s easiest to treat. Talk with your doctor about when you should start screenings. The 3 main screening exams are:

  • Clinical breast exam, performed by your doctor or women’s health provider.
  • Self-breast exam, usually starting in the late teens.
  • Mammography and other imaging as recommended.

For more information about risks and screenings, visit


Dense Breasts? Clear Screenings

It’s commonly thought that dense breasts are large breasts. You may be surprised to learn that it’s rarely the case. Density is not based on size. Breasts are considered dense when there’s much more breast tissue than fat. Dense breasts are linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

  • 40% of American women have dense breasts.
  • Women with extremely dense breast tissue have a 4 to 6 times greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who don’t.
  • Traditional mammograms may miss up to 1/3 of cancer in dense breasts because it’s harder to detect.

Eliminating density really isn’t an option for lowering your risk of breast cancer. How you’re screened for it is, though.

On a mammogram, dense breast tissue looks white. So do masses or lumps, so a suspicious area may be masked by the dense breast tissue. Getting a mammogram is important. But it might not be enough. If your doctor determines that you have dense breasts, you may also benefit from automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) screening. It’s especially useful in detecting areas of concern in dense breasts that might have been missed by mammography alone.

“Mammography uses radiologic imaging to see into the breast. Our 3D imaging technology provides a finer image than ever before. Automated breast ultrasound screening, or ABUS, uses sound waves to provide images. It’s performed on dense breasts after the mammogram and is very effective in detecting suspicious areas that might not be visible in your mammogram,” explains Radiologist, Melanie DeHart, M.D. from Radiology Associates of Richmond.

“Our ABUS system, which also uses 3D technology, gives a different type of in-depth image for comparison. Evaluating these images side-by-side gives your doctor the ability to make a clearer assessment.”

We are pleased to offer 3D Mammogram and ABUS at Henrico Doctor’s Hospital. For more information CALL 877-319-7744.

ABUS Screening- What to expect

An ABUS screening takes about 15 minutes and is typically done right after your annual mammogram.

You lie down on an exam table, a layer of lotion is applied to your breast, and then a scanner is firmly positioned on your breast to acquire the images. It’s repeated on the other breast. Your doctor then reviews the ABUS screening images alongside your mammogram.

Breast Care Nurse Navigators

Radiologist, Melanie DeHart, M.D. from Radiology Associates of Richmond.
Radiologist, Melanie DeHart, M.D. from Radiology Associates of Richmond.

A breast cancer diagnosis can bring with it a lot of uncertainty. There’s a lot to do, and a lot to comprehend. Each of our patients on that journey has access to an invaluable, free resource—our Breast Care Nurse Navigators. Each Navigator offers her patients’ personalized guidance and support at different steps along the journey of cancer

What are Breast Care Nurse Navigators? They’re nurses specially trained in oncology with a focus on breast cancer. Our care team offers the expertise of three highly experienced, compassionate Breast Cancer Navigators.

Our Breast Cancer Navigators are dedicated to their patients, ensuring they get the help they need when they need it. They’re there for family and loved ones as well. Navigators’ assistance includes:

  • Coordinating care to help arrange and expedite appointments, testing, and treatment.
  • Educating on the diagnosis, treatment, and side effects and how to manage them.
  • Advocating for the patient by providing links to community resources such as support groups and classes.
  • Offering information and resource materials.
  • Connecting the patient to other resources such as home health, medical supplies, nutritional assistance, rehabilitation, financial aid, transportation, and spiritual care.
  • Emotional support

Our Breast Cancer Navigators’ services are free to our patients. Requests may be made by patients, family, friends or healthcare providers at any time. Please call (804) HCA-CARE.