Barbara Carr, MS, Director of Women’s and Children’s Service Line

Stamford Health

The High Risk Program at Stamford Health’s Breast Center was developed to identify women with an elevated risk of developing breast cancer in order to prevent or delay the onset of disease. The High Risk Program provides early detection and prevention tailored to each individual patient, based on her history, priorities and needs.

During  screening mammograms, each woman is assessed for her lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. The results of the risk assessment are provided to her and the referring physician. If a woman’s risk is 20% or higher, follow up with a High Risk Coordinator occurs, education is provided and an appointment with the program’s High Risk Program Nurse Practitioner is offered. The grant from the CT Breast Health Initiative has allowed Stamford Health to staff the High Risk Program with a Coordinator to carefully monitor every woman who gets a screening mammogram, and to help triage her into the High Risk Program.

When a woman sees the High Risk Program Nurse, she receives a more in depth risk evaluation, and then a personalized plan of care is created for her. In short, the High Risk Program:

  • Educates women at high risk about the need for enhanced screening and/or testing;
  • Refers women for counseling in lifestyle modifications in order to reduce their risk;
  • Refers women for the consideration of chemoprevention and if appropriate, genetic counseling and testing;
  • Works with women to develop a long-term, proactive plan of care.

Through this High Risk Program and a dedicated High Risk Coordinator, Stamford Health is increasing the likelihood that every woman who has an elevated risk of developing breast cancer can have a proactive plan – something every woman deserves.


Susan H. Tannenbaum, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology

UConn Health

Genomic Assessment of Tumors from Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients: Comparison to Circulating Tumor Cells Identified in Same Patient Population.

The grant will be utilized within the context of a larger study that is looking at tumor cells that can be found circulating in a patients’  bloodstream both when the disease has spread to distant sites (metastatic) and when it is localized (early stage). These tumor cells will be studied for their expression of different genetic markers including the estrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors. CT BHI grant money will be used to study over 500 genes in each patient’s tumor with metastatic disease and see if a correlation between the gene expression and presence and type of circulating tumor cells can be found. Additionally, patients will learn the results of the gene testing of their tumor which may inform future decisions regarding personalized/targeted treatments for them.


Dr. Keith M. Bellizzi, MPH, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and Center for Public Health and Health Policy and Kate E. Dibble, MA, Graduate Assistant

University of Connecticut

Genetic Counseling for BRCA1/2 Mutations: Patient Experiences, Preferences, and Outcomes of Counseling.

Individuals testing positive for the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes, or hereditary breast cancer mutations, are 33-55% more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancers before the age of 70. While research on hereditary genetic breast cancer counseling is continuing to emerge, there remains unanswered questions regarding counseling processes and patient preferences, and potential unintended consequences, such as anxiety, stress, and its effect on quality of life. The current project will inform approaches to support women and their families, both mentally and socially, following a positive test result for BRCA1/BRCA2 genetic mutation. This study will be one of the first of its kind, providing patient experiences and outcomes of hereditary breast cancer testing and the preferred communication approach used to discuss the genetic counseling process.