El Camino Hospital Launches Breast Cancer Detection Program to Help Women With Dense Breast Tissue

About 3-6 percent of women who get mammograms fall into high-risk categories and may not know it, said the executive director for the Women's Hospital at El Camino Hospital.

Coinciding with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, El Camino Hospital announced the launch of a comprehensive high-risk breast program Wednesday, to help identify breast cancer early.

It is intended to identify women who are at high risk for developing breast cancer at some point in their lifetime and help them manage their risk or the resulting diagnosis.

“Approximately 3-6 percent of the mammography population—who have no history of cancer—fall into the high risk category,” said Michele Van Zuiden, Executive Director, Women’s Hospital. 

El Camino Hospital is part of a locally governed hospital district serving Los Altos, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and Santa Clara, and has an additional hospital in Los Gatos.

The program starts with a risk assessment tool offered to all Breast Health Center mammogram patients and completed via tablet while they wait for their appointment. The results, along with their mammogram results, are shared with patients and with the patient’s referring physician. All identified high-risk women will be contacted by a nurse within a week after the test to discuss additional screening options like genetic counseling and BRCA testing.  

The Breast Health Center also recently adopted Volpara, breast density measurement software, which helps radiologists assess breast density more objectively and determine who might benefit from additional screening.

Another key component of the program is the use of advanced diagnostic equipment, including the most powerful breast MRI on the market and a new 3-D breast ultrasound. El Camino Hospital is the first hospital in Northern California to offer this advanced 3-D screening option, especially critical for . 

Once identified, patients will be advised to schedule an appointment for the recently FDA-approved somo∙v® Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS) system used in addition to mammography for asymptomatic women with dense breast tissue. In clinical studies, ABUS found 30 percent more cancers in women who have a normal mammogram, normal examination and dense breasts.

A mammography is often not enough to detect breast cancer for nearly 40 percent of women who have dense breasts, said Imtiaz Qureshi, medical director and chief of radiology at El Camino Hospital.  

“We are excited to bring this advanced technology to our patients, giving women with dense breasts an added screening option, that done in concert with mammography and other objective measurement tools, will help us increase the likelihood of an accurate diagnosis and earlier detection.”


El Camino Women's Hospital's executive director, Van Zuidan said this new comprehensive tool will allow El Camino Hospital to help patients assess and understand their lifetime risk and then make informed choices about further testing, diagnosis, risk reduction strategies and treatment options.


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