One in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, making it one of the most common forms of cancer in women. While there is no way to completely prevent breast cancer, it is possible to find the resources and support to diagnose, treat and in some cases even prevent it. The full spectrum of preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic as well as ancillary support is available right here in the community under the auspices of Washington Hospital and its partners and affiliates.
Understanding Your Risk
Finding breast cancer in its earliest stages can improve survivability by as much as 32 percent in women over 60 years of age although that improvement is a little less in women younger than that or older than 70 years. While mammograms are still the standard for detecting the disease, it’s important to know your individual risk as well.
Since 2013, Washington Hospital and its community partners have been conducting breast cancer risk assessments at the as part of its regular screening process in order to identify women who are at a statistically increased risk for developing breast cancer. The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (Gail analysis), based on the work done at the National Cancer Institute, uses a woman’s personal medical, reproductive, genetic and family history to estimate her risk of developing invasive breast cancer over a set amount of time.
Seeking Advanced Care
In 2009, Washington Hospital became the first Northern California institution to be awarded a Center of Excellence Accreditation by The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that has been established to identify and recognize breast centers providing quality care in the United States. What that means for our patients is that, when a person is diagnosed with breast cancer, they have all the skills and resources of a multidisciplinary physician panel working together to give each patient the best chance of survival with the best quality of life possible.
Twice a month, our team, which includes surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, nurse navigators and others, gets together to discuss each newly-diagnosed breast cancer patient to make sure we are all in agreement on the best and most appropriate course of treatment. By focusing on each patient, we’re invested in the breast cancer journeys – from prevention to diagnosis and treatment, and, if needed, through end-of-life care.
In 2017, the affiliation of UCSF Health and Washington Hospital Healthcare System led to the creation of the UCSF – Washington Cancer Center. This affiliation has extended to include the Radiation Oncology Center where patients benefit from a staff that includes a board-certified radiation oncologist from UCSF Health.
Tri-City residents have access to exceptional resources and care that includes potential participation in clinical trials and the ability to have their care reviewed by an expert panel at UCSF. This benefits our community members by saving the cost, time, and headaches associated with having to travel across the bay.
Finding Community Support
In addition to the advanced care one receives by virtue of our UCSF affiliation, the Washington Hospital Women’s Center is a community resource for breast health. Resources that are available include wellness classes such as yoga or tai chi, women’s health education classes, oncology massages, a breast cancer support group, and through HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, help with post-surgical products and services. The annual Think Pink event is designed to remind those in our community that there is life after breast cancer.