Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Partners with Athena Breast Health Network to Personalize Breast Cancer Risk Assessment

>PRWEB.COM Newswire
Sioux Falls, SD and San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) November 13, 2013

Edith Sanford Breast Cancer (ESBC), part of the Sanford Health system based in Sioux Falls, SD, today announced it is partnering with the Athena Breast Health Network, a University of California program, to advance the use of a personalized breast cancer risk assessment.

The innovative program includes a breast cancer risk assessment tool and a care plan for high-risk patients. Additionally, it will offer patients the opportunity to participate in research aimed at gaining a better understanding of breast cancer and its risk factors, ultimately raising the standard of care for women everywhere. This program marks another milestone in ESBC’s mission to end breast cancer

Athena Breast Health Network is a collaboration among the five University of California medical centers. ESBC is its first partner outside of California and was selected because of its expertise in breast cancer genomics and its ability to integrate the risk assessment into patient care.

“This new partnership allows us to use the latest risk assessment technology to uncover a woman’s potential to develop breast cancer and to then to develop customized care plans for her,” said Thomas Cink, MD, a fellowship-trained breast radiologist with Edith Sanford. “A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Risk factors don’t necessarily mean a woman will develop breast cancer, but understanding them allows a woman and her physician to make more informed health care and lifestyle choices.”

As part of the new standard of care, prior to a breast screening (mammogram) appointment, Sanford Health patients will complete an Athena screening questionnaire online at home or in the clinic. Patients identified with an elevated risk will be referred to additional resources and specialists including risk-reduction programs and/or genetic counseling.

The risk assessment process evaluation includes the following risk factors for breast cancer:

  • Age

  • Personal history of breast cancer

  • Family history of breast cancer

  • Genetic predisposition

  • Personal history of ovarian cancer

  • Lifestyle (weight, smoking, alcohol use)

  • Dense breasts

  • Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy

  • Race/ethnicity

  • Previous radiation exposure

  • Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS)

  • Atypical hyperplasia found in breast biopsy

In the near future, Athena will integrate breast density and small variations in inherited gene profiles, or so-called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPS), into the standard risk assessment process. The Athena Breast Health Network already has collected patient-reported data on more than 41,000 women and 7,900 biospecimens from women across the state of California. In addition, the network has identified 673 women at elevated risk for breast cancer and completed 466 elevated-risk consultations with breast health specialists.

Sanford patients who complete the survey also will be given the opportunity to participate in research to further scientific knowledge on the development of breast cancer. One of the program goals is to engage the support of 4,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer to participate in a study to identify DNA, or genetic, markers.

“This milestone collaboration will benefit our patients today and women everywhere tomorrow,” said Brian Leyland-Jones, MB BS, PhD, director of Edith Sanford’s genomic research program. “With the help of those women who volunteer to participate in the study and through genomic sequencing, we will strive to better understand what drives breast cancer at the molecular level so we can improve treatment and someday prevent the disease altogether.”

“Our goal is to learn who is at risk for what kind of breast cancer and tailor screening and prevention accordingly,” said Laura Esserman, MD, MBA, founding director of Athena and director of the UCSF Breast Care Center. “We welcome the participation of Sanford Health in this exciting practice-changing endeavor.”

Sanford Health will begin implementing the Athena screening and risk assessment model in pilot locations in the coming months. Athena will be implemented across the Sanford Health system beginning in 2014.

About Sanford Health and Edith Sanford Breast Cancer
Sanford Health is the largest rural nonprofit health care system in the nation with locations in 126 communities, in nine states. In addition, this dynamic integrated health system is now developing international clinics in Ghana, Israel and Mexico. Sanford Health has more than 26,000 employees, and includes 39 hospitals, 140 clinic locations and 1,360 physicians in 81 specialty areas of medicine.

In 2011, Sanford Health announced the launch of the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Initiative, a bold new endeavor to end breast cancer, comprised of state-of-the-art patient care, genomic research and national fundraising through the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation. For more information, visit

About Athena Breast Care Network
The Athena Breast Health Network (Athena) is a unique collaboration among the five University of California (UC) medical/cancer centers (UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UCSF), the Graduate School of Public Health at UC Berkeley, and many other public and private partners. The Network takes a transdisciplinary approach by design, and its participants work together across fields including: epidemiology, genetics, molecular biology, psychology and social and behavioral sciences, primary care, radiology, pathology, oncology, surgery and health services research. Also included are clinical staff and genetic counselors, health information technology professionals, health care administrators, and importantly, patient advocates.

Athena is integrating clinical care and research in order to revolutionize the delivery of breast care. By standardizing the collection of data from both patients and physicians, integrating molecular profiling at the time of breast cancer diagnosis, and creating an unparalleled biospecimen repository, Athena will enable personalized care informed by science and will fuel continuous improvement in treatment options and outcomes.

Key components of Athena include:
Identifying women at high risk for breast cancer who will be offered prevention services and decision support
A comprehensive informatics strategy that includes tools to collect, analyze, and distribute clinical and research data in real time
Web-based decision tools for patients and providers to translate clinical evidence into actionable treatment options – allowing physicians to tailor treatment to biology, patient preference and clinical performance
A data and biospecimen repository to support large-scale, longitudinal studies that will enable tailored prevention and treatment strategies
Underpinning these goals is a culture that supports continuous improvement, as well as a commitment by Athena clinicians and researchers across California to share data. With this unique collaboration, Athena aims to change the options for patients today and create a better future for all women at risk of developing breast cancer.

UC Disclaimer
The information stated above was prepared by Sanford Health and reflects solely the opinion of the health system. Nothing in this statement shall be construed to imply any support or endorsement of Sanford, or any of its products, by The Regents of the University of California, its officers, agents and employees.