MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — At the Middlesex Health Comprehensive Breast Center, doctors and genetic counselors rely on the latest tools and testing to diagnose patients with breast cancer.

Middlesex Health breast surgeon Kertrisa McWhite talks about one of her best tools in detecting breast cancer.

“I can detect the extent of cancer in the breast where I know it exists, hopefully, if there was additional disease in the breast that was unsuspected we would detect it with MRI,” Dr. McWhite said.

Middlesex Health experts also use genetic screening to help people understand their risk for cancers, including breast cancer.

“When there’s a genetic or hereditary risk in the family, the risk for cancer can be significantly higher and there can be risks for other cancer types that may not be in the family but could show up,” said genetic counselor Amanda Hamblett.

She gave an example of one benefit of genetic testing of a saliva sample.

“The laboratory will examine that and determine if there’s a non-functioning gene, and if there is, they can tell us which gene isn’t functioning. Based on the gene not functioning, we will know what type of cancer that person is at increased risk for and how high that risk is,” Hamblett said.

Genetic screening is being recommended for screening for breast cancer risk now more than ever.

McWhite stressed that early detection is the key to beating breast cancer and has this message:

“Don’t let the fear of finding something in your breast prevent you from doing all the things that you know can allow breast cancer to be detected early. You wouldn’t believe the innovations we have available to us.”