Preventing Breast Cancer at UH Seidman Cancer Center


Cleveland Heights native Ebonee Woods-Hughes was rightfully concerned when breast cancer began to strike a number of women in her family. “First my mother, then my sister and my cousin were diagnosed,” Ebonee shared. “I realized it wasn’t a matter of if, but when, I would have cancer, too.”

In 2016, Ebonee turned to the UH Center for Breast Cancer Prevention for help. Following a personalized assessment, physicians confirmed that the breast cancer threatening her family is caused by a BRCA-1 genetic mutation. “Each of us is the first person in our own line of defense when it comes to our health,” she said. “When I tested positive for the gene, I saw it as an opportunity to learn about how to take care of my overall health.”

The lifetime risk of breast cancer for a BRCA-1 carrier is 72 percent, a stark contrast to the 12 percent risk associated with women without the mutation. Carriers also have up to a 44 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer in their lifetime, compared to a 1.3 percent risk for women in the general population.

“The center helped me evaluate my options to come up with a preventive plan that works for me,” said Ebonee, who chose to have both of her ovaries removed to mitigate the threat of ovarian cancer. “To date, no screening has proven to effectively detect ovarian cancer,” explained Ebonee’s surgeon, Steven Waggoner, MD, Anderson Family Master Clinician in Gynecological Oncology and Division Chief, Gynecological Oncology, UH Cleveland Medical Center. “For this reason, many women elect surgical removal while continuing screening for breast cancer.”

Now a patient in the high risk breast program, Ebonee receives ongoing preventive care and surveillance from Heidi Goodwin, CNP, UH Seidman Cancer Center. “UH is filled with excellent caregivers,” said Ebonee. “I feel relieved to know I’m in the hands of such a great team.”