High-Risk Breast Program
The High-Risk Breast Program, the first of its kind in Northern California, is helping to identify women in the community whose personal and family history may indicate a higher risk for breast or ovarian cancer. "National studies show that high-risk patients are referred for appropriate workup only 41 percent of the time," says surgeon Peter Naruns, MD. "We wanted to develop a new strategy that would identify more women in this category and thus save many more lives."
The program begins when a woman first comes to the Breast Health Center. Before receiving her mammogram, she is asked to take five to 10 minutes to fill out a questionnaire using a new risk assessment application on a small tablet device, similar to an iPad. The questionnaire asks about a woman's personal breast health history and family cancer history. The results are analyzed, using four different clinical algorithms, then sent to the patient and her primary care physician. Each woman identified with a 20 percent or higher lifetime risk of breast cancer meets with a breast care nurse navigator to learn about possible health care options, including genetic counseling and testing and/or further screening. She will also receive counseling from a physician panel about further screening as well as education about monitoring her breast health and taking preventive measures to reduce her future risk of breast cancer. The High-Risk Breast Program is available at both the Mountain View and Los Gatos campuses.
Advanced Imaging Technology
The Breast Health Center now offers high-risk patients two additional, powerful screening options: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an alternative to X-rays that can show detailed images in soft tissue, and the new Automated Breast Ultrasound System (ABUS), providing the radiologist with 3-D images of breast tissue for increased breast cancer detection especially in women with dense breasts. El Camino Hospital is the first hospital in Northern California to offer ABUS to patients.
Measuring Breast Density
A new California law that takes effect in April requires doctors to inform their patients if they have dense breast tissue and that, in addition to mammography, other screening options are available. Nationwide, about 40 percent of women getting mammograms have dense breast tissue, which often makes it more difficult to evaluate results. Integrated with digital mammography, a new software program automatically generates objective breast density values during a woman's regular mammogram. Depending on the measurement level, physicians can then guide patients to additional screening options if necessary.