California study will follow breast cancer patients for decades.
“This initiative will demonstrate that the total of what can be accomplished by UC functioning as an integrated system can far exceed the sum of contributions by the individual campuses.”
The University of California is undertaking a multi-million study to collect data that will shape breast cancer care in the future. The ATHENA Breast Health Network project will initially involve 150,000 women throughout California who will be screened for breast cancer and followed for decades through the five UC medical centers. ATHENA is a University of California system-wide project supported by a $5.3 million University of California grant and a $4.8 million grant from the Safeway Foundation.
“ATHENA is a model of multi-institutional collaboration and demonstrates the enormous potential in shared systems,” says John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services. “This is a great example of the power of our statewide university network of academic medical centers. This initiative will demonstrate that the total of what can be accomplished by UC functioning as an integrated system can far exceed the sum of contributions by the individual campuses.”
Stobo says ATHENA represents an “unprecedented opportunity” to play a leadership role in driving critical changes in healthcare. He believes UC is uniquely positioned to not only study the appropriateness and effectiveness of treatment, but also apply new scientific evidence to change the delivery of care.
The medical centers involved in the large-scale demonstration project are the University of California, San Francisco as the host campus, University of California, Davis, University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, San Diego, and University of California, Irvine. Also participating in the collaboration are the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, the Northern California Cancer Center, Quantum Leap Healthcare Collaborative, the National Cancer Institute’s BIG Health Consortium, and the Center for Medical Technology Policy.
Breast cancer, the most common cancer in women, strikes more than 200,000 women annually and kills more than 40,000 women each year, according to the American Cancer Society. In the United States, more than $20 billion is spent annually screening and treating the disease.
The goal is to improve survival and reduce suffering from breast cancer and accelerate the research process, says ATHENA principal investigator Laura Esserman, director of the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center. “By working together as a community, the University of California medical centers, their affiliates, primary care and specialty physicians and patient advocates will work to change the options for patients today and create a better future for all women at risk for developing breast cancer.”