UCSD Health Sciences UCSD Health Sciences
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December 16, 1999

Media Contact: Nancy Stringer (619) 543-6163

UCSD BREAST CARE UNIT LAUNCHES FREE, WEB-BASED EARLY DETECTION SERVICE

Breast health experts at UCSD Cancer Center today announced the launch of a web-based service that will remind women by e-mail when it's time to do their monthly breast self-exam and when to schedule their annual clinical breast exam and mammogram. This is a free, community service available to anyone with an e-mail address.

To register for the service women simply visit the UCSD Cancer Center web site at http://cancer.ucsd.edu and click on the link to the Breast Health Reminder service. The registration page asks visitors to register for the monthly or annual reminder, or both. Visitors then designate the date each month and/or the month each year they wish to receive their e-mail reminder, enter their e-mail address and click the submit button.

“Women have the best of intentions, but somehow when things get busy the majority of us just simply forget to do monthly breast self-exams or to get a mammogram,” said Anne Wallace, M.D., director of the Breast Care Unit at UCSD Cancer Center. “This service offers that little tap on the shoulder we sometimes need.”

Wallace, a surgeon trained in both general and plastic and reconstructive surgery, said 90 percent of early breast cancer is curable but early detection requires vigilance.

“There are three simple steps women can take to increase their chances of early detection – monthly breast self-examinations, an annual clinical breast exam and an annual mammogram,” she said. “None of these steps takes more than a few minutes and, combined, they can literally save a woman's life.”

The UCSD Breast Care Unit was the first breast health service in San Diego to offer women a comprehensive team approach to their care. Every week about 20 specialists from eight disciplines meet to discuss each woman's case to determine the best options available. Using the advice from this group of experts, the patient then decides with her primary physician what she feels is best for her.

Members of the team represent medical, surgical and radiation oncology, pathology, diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine, medical genetics, nursing and social work. There are also experts from the Cancer Center's Clinical Trials Office who know of clinical studies in advanced new methods of treatment that patients may want to consider. Basic scientists such as chemists, molecular biologists and bio-engineers also participate in some of the team meetings to discuss new avenues for research.

“Breast cancer can be a very complex disease to treat,” said David Tarin, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UCSD Cancer Center and Breast Care team member. “To provide the best care, it is critical to have multiple experts looking closely at all aspects of each woman's medical situation and bringing the newest knowledge to bear on her care.”

Tarin added that all care at the Cancer Center is being designed around this principle, to forge a new model for how cancer care should ideally be delivered in the future.

Founded in 1979, the UCSD Cancer Center is one of just 60 centers in the United States to hold a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation. As such, it ranks among the top centers in the nation conducting basic and clinical cancer research, and providing advanced patient care. The Center's mission is to translate promising scientific discoveries into new and better options for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and the amelioration of pain.

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