Proactive breast cancer risk assessment in primary care: a review based on the principles of screening

Juliet A. Usher-Smith, Sarah Hindmarch, David P. French, Marc Tischkowitz, Sowmiya Moorthie, Fiona M. Walter, Rebecca A. Dennison, Francisca Stutzin, Stephanie Archer, Lily Taylor, Jon Emery, Stephen Morris, Douglas F. Easton, Antonis C. Antoniou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that women at moderate or high risk of breast cancer be offered risk-reducing medication and enhanced breast screening/surveillance. In June 2022, NICE withdrew a statement recommending assessment of risk in primary care only when women present with concerns. This shift to proactive assessment of risk substantially changes the role of primary care, in effect paving the way for a primary care based screening programme to identify those at moderate or high risk of breast cancer.
In this article we review the literature surrounding proactive breast cancer risk assessment within primary care against the consolidated framework for screening. We find that risk assessment for women under 50 years currently satisfies many of the standard principles for screening. Most notably, there are large numbers of women at moderate or high risk currently unidentified, risk models exist that can identify those women with reasonable accuracy, and management options that offer the opportunity to reduce breast cancer incidence and mortality in that group. However, there remain a number of uncertainties and research gaps, particularly around the program/system requirements, that need to be addressed before these benefits can be realised.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1636–1646
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2023


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