New Clinic at UA's Arizona Cancer Center Offers Unique Procedures for Women at Risk of Breast, Ovarian Cancers

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New Clinic at UA's Arizona Cancer Center Offers Unique Procedures for Women at Risk of Breast, Ovarian Cancers

TUCSON, Ariz., -- The Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center has opened a new High-Risk Breast and Ovarian Cancer Clinic and is accepting clients. The clinic offers women unique opportunities for screening, prevention, treatment and participation in clinical trials through an exclusive multidisciplinary approach.
"We're offering something to women that they haven't had before," says Christina Kim, MD, a breast surgeon at the Arizona Cancer Center and one of the people responsible for the clinic's development.

"Up until now, the clinical focus has been on treating diagnosed breast cancer patients. Here, we can focus on finding cancer very early by screening women at a younger age in a multidisciplinary environment. Our target is women in their 30s or early 40s, but we can evaluate and work with any at-risk woman older than 18."

The multidisciplinary staff includes a breast surgeon, a gynecologic oncologist, medical oncologists, a genetic counselor, a nutritionist and nurse coordinators -- all working together collaboratively to offer new levels of supportive services and care for women at high risk.

Multidisciplinary services are only one way the clinic is setting new marks for ovarian and breast cancer prevention and treatment. The clinic also uses the most advanced techniques and equipment available to give clients every possible advantage.

For example, Dr. Kim explains, "Mammograms have been the procedure of choice for diagnosing women for breast cancer. It's a choice that has sometimes been too little, too late. Mammograms typically find cancers that are 5 mm in size or larger, and it can take up to 10 years for a lesion to reach that size. The emerging techniques we use allow much earlier diagnosis."

One such technique is called breast endoscopy. This technology gives a doctor's trained eye a look inside the tiny milk ducts of a breast, where most cancers start. The procedure identifies even very small abnormalities, cutting years off the time ordinary detection techniques would require to diagnose cancer and begin treatment.

The combined focus on breast and ovarian cancers also makes the High-Risk Clinic unique and potentially more effective than other approaches to diagnosis and treatment.

"These cancers run together," explains Molly Brewer, DVM, MD, MS, an ovarian cancer specialist who also has played a key role in the opening of the clinic. "Breast and ovarian cancers are very tightly linked. Here, we're able to do a more comprehensive evaluation. We're helping women who have had breast cancer but have not been talked to about ovarian cancer. The development of ovarian cancer may be preventable if we assume they're at risk and we intervene at the appropriate time. We've spent the past 100 years looking at possible cures -- now, we're focusing on prevention."

The clinic also aggressively is pursuing and developing new technologies to arrive at better diagnosis and treatment options. Thus, women who use the clinic's services often are offered opportunities to take part in wide-ranging clinical and preclinical trials. High-risk patients also may be eligible for intervention with new treatments.

"Much of our research is focused on identifying new and earlier markers for pre-cancerous conditions," explains Dr. Kim. "We're ready to assess, serve and support any woman who perceives she is at an elevated risk, or who doesn't know her level of risk."

The High-Risk Breast and Ovarian Cancer Clinic currently is open on the second and fourth Fridays of every month. To contact the clinic directly, call (520) 326-5290, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until noon. To determine your risk for breast or ovarian cancer, take the self-assessment test found on the Arizona Cancer Center's Web site at: http://www.azcc.arizona.edu/selftest.htm.