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By age 39, Christa Krais had spent most of her life fearing that she would develop breast cancer. Her half-sister overcame breast cancer at a young age, and many of her family members died with the disease.

At age 24, Krais obtained her first mammogram. Since that time, she has been maintaining a healthy lifestyle,
performing breast self-exams and getting regular health checkups with the goal of prevention.

In May 2009, during her annual mammogram at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen Breast Center, new lumps were found in her breasts. Krais underwent a series of breast imaging studies, which included breast magnetic resonance imaging.

“The Breast Center did a great job of explaining things to me and keeping me informed throughout,” Krais says. “It was great to have everything done at the same place.”

Krais was then referred to Radha Iyengar, MD, medical director of the Breast Center at Texas Health Allen.

“We know that breast issues can be frightening for women, and that is why a thorough and compassionate approach is important,” says Dr. Iyengar, a fellowship-trained breast surgeon who frequently manages the care of women facing breast health issues. “I enjoy developing lasting relationships with my patients. I follow them throughout the care process, coordinating with other physicians to ensure each patient receives individualized and appropriate care.”

In June 2009, Krais met with a genetic counselor on the medical staff at Texas Health Allen to review her personal and family history and discuss other risk factors. Testing included laboratory analysis of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations that contribute to breast and other types of cancer.

“The genetic counselor was very thorough and gave me a lot of information that helped me understand all of my options and insurance implications,” Krais says. “Although my BRCA analysis was negative, I was still identified as ‘high risk.’”

After weighing her options, Krais elected to undergo double prophylactic mastectomy, and Dr. Iyengar referred her to a plastic surgeon on the medical staff.

“Women who have prophylactic surgery can still develop breast cancer, although the risk is very small,” says Dr. Iyengar. “Maintaining vigilance is very important.”

For Krais, a support system and a health care home at Texas Health Allen are critical.

“I could not have asked for a more supportive experience,” Krais says. “The compassion, strength and expertise of Dr. Iyengar and the Breast Center staff make all the difference.”

The Breast Center at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen offers a broad range of services in a warm, supportive environment — including breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which provides a 3-D, focused view of breast tissue and the ability to find small cancers earlier than when using conventional film technology.

Additional imaging services include:

• breast cancer risk assessment and high-risk screening

• breast MRI and MRI-guided biopsy

• breast ultrasound

• digital mammography

• genetic counseling and testing

• stereotactic and ultrasound-guided breast biopsy

For more information about the Breast Center at Texas Health Allen, visit TexasHealth.org/Allen or call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355). (Summer 2010)

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