Researchers have developed a model for predicting the risk of invasive breast cancer (the most serious form) over the next five years for women aged 35-84. The model, known as the Gail Model, was developed by Dr. Mitchell Gail at the National Cancer Institute. The model first determines a baseline risk according to age and race alone. Then it calculates to what extent risk increases based on the following factors:
- Family history of breast cancer
- Age at first menstrual period
- Age at the time of first child’s birth
- Presence or absence of a breast biopsy
- Results of the biopsy
Here is a risk assessment tool adapted from the Gail Model. It is important to note that these calculations are based on a population of women who may differ from you, and these calculations do not take into account all risk factors for breast cancer (diet, for example). Also, the model has been mainly studied in Caucasian and African American women, so it may not be as accurate for women of other races. The results, therefore, may or may not accurately reflect your personal circumstances. Discuss your results with your doctor, especially if you have certain risk factors (eg, having had radiation treatment, being a carrier for specific gene mutations that increase breast cancer risk, etc.).
The usefulness of this tool is its ability to give you a rough idea of your short-term risk of breast cancer so you may take appropriate action.
This tool should not be used if you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ, or lobular carcinoma in situ. If you have been diagnosed, work with your doctor to develop the best treatment plan for you.