Actress Olivia Munn Brings Awareness to Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool

By Steve Blanchard - March 18, 2024

When actress Olivia Munn recently revealed her breast cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy, she pleaded with her fans to speak to their doctors about a breast cancer risk assessment tool. The calculator, designed by the National Cancer Institute, is available online and is designed for patients to use with their doctors to determine their cancer risk.

It’s a tool available to everyone, and Dr. Aixa Soyano Muller, a breast oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center, says it can be key to spotting risks of cancer earlier, when it’s more treatable.

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"We don’t want anyone to have cancer, but if we do catch it early, we want to deal with it when it is small and as early on as we can."

- Dr. Aixa Soyano Muller, Department of Breast Oncology

“Discuss breast cancer with your physician, primary caregiver, OB/GYN, any doctor about doing this assessment because we can offer supplemental imaging that can aid in detecting cancer,” she said. “We don’t want anyone to have cancer, but if we do catch it early, we want to deal with it when it is small and as early on as we can.”

The assessment tool is available on the NCI’s website and was first designed in 1989. It asks questions about personal history, including family and reproductive history and breast biopsies. It calculates those answers and looks at a person’s chance of developing cancer within the next decade.

“But it’s important to remember this tool does not diagnose breast cancer,” Soyano Muller said. “It’s a tool used to monitor your chances of breast cancer.”

It’s important to continue annual mammograms and screenings for breast cancer as a means of prevention and treatment as well, she said. It’s also important to remember the assessment tool doesn’t factor in things like dense breast tissue, which can make cancer more challenging to discover.

On Instagram, Munn shared that she has had four surgeries in the past 10 months and credited her doctors with saving her life.

“I’m lucky,” the 43-year-old wrote. “We caught it with enough time that I had options. I want the same for any woman who might have to face this one day.”

Women appear to have taken notice. The NCI shared that its breast risk assessment tool received a “dramatic increase in visits” since Munn shared her story on social media.

“Talking with your doctor about your risks are key,” Soyano Muller said. “Using the tools that are available to you and to us as health care providers is important to maintaining your health and planning for any future possibilities.”

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