Moores UCSD Cancer Center part of statewide breast cancer project


The Moores UCSD Cancer Center and four other University of California medical centers announced Tuesday they are participating in an unprecedented statewide collaboration to improve care for breast cancer patients by designing and testing new approaches to research, technology and health care delivery.

Named the ATHENA Breast Health Network, the 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. The systemwide project is supported by a $5.3 million UC 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,” said John D. Stobo, MD, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services. “… ATHENA represents an unprecedented opportunity to play a leadership role in driving critical changes in health care.”

Women who go to the five UC centers and their affiliates to be screened for breast cancer will be offered participation in the progra. All women undergoing screening and treatment will be asked to contribute information about themselves, any risk factors they have, including health status, and other related lifestyle behaviors, such as diet, tobacco and drug use, environmental factors, gynecological history and family risk. The information will be used to help target prevention services now and in the future.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer will be offered enrollment in a “survivorship cohort” comprised of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The project is expected to generate a rich collection of data and knowledge that will shape breast cancer care in the way the renowned Framingham heart study changed the care of patients with heart disease.

In addition to the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, the centers involved in the large-scale demonstration project are host campus UC San Francisco, UC Davis, UCLA and UC Irvine. Also participating in the collaboration are the UC 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.

“The ATHENA Breast Health Network provides a first-time opportunity for the five UC cancer centers to leverage their collective research strengths in tackling important scientific and clinical questions in breast cancer,” said Dennis Carson, MD, director of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

The goals of the ATHENA initiative are:

  • To create common systems to integrate clinical research and care across the UC campuses to advance the science of prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
  • To drive innovation across the UC system to deliver more effective and efficient systems for personalized and biologically targeted care, using breast cancer as a prototype.
  • To create a biospecimen repository that has broad racial and ethnic representation.
  • To reduce morbidity and mortality by gaining a molecular understanding of breast cancer and factors that fuel breast cancer risk.
  • To improve understanding of who is at risk for what kind of cancer, and whether the risk of that cancer is significant or minimal.
  • To generate the evidence for developing more effective and less toxic treatments and to drive innovation in prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
  • To provide tools to change the way patients and providers interact to prevent and manage the disease.

The Moores UCSD Cancer Center is the first California hospital-based breast program to receive accreditation from the American College of Surgeons National Accreditation Program of Breast Centers.
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