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November 25, 2009 > Washington Hospital Program Achieves National Breast Center Certification

Washington Hospital Program Achieves National Breast Center Certification

Only Program in Bay Area to Earn Accreditation

With the recent news about changing recommendations for screening mammograms, it's more important that ever for women to access the best care possible. Washington Hospital's Breast Health Program has earned a three-year/full accreditation designation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a program administered by the American College of Surgeons. The Breast Health Program is the only program in Northern California to hold this distinction.

"Since we were one of the first hospitals in the area to develop a center dedicated to the care of women, it's fitting that we have become the first nationally accredited breast center in Northern California and one of only four in all of California," says Dr. William Dugoni, medical director of Washington Hospital's Women's Health Program and co-chair of the Breast Health Committee. "We're extremely proud of our achievement and the first-class, university-level care we offer the community."

The Breast Health Program at Washington Hospital falls within the NAPBC's Pacific Region, which includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. It is the only accredited program between Bellingham, Wash., and San Diego, Calif.

Accreditation by the NAPBC is only given to those centers that have voluntarily committed to provide the highest level of quality breast care and that undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of their performance.

"This accreditation means that women treated at Washington Hospital will have access to the best breast care in the Bay Area," said Dr. Vandana B. Sharma, medical director of Washington Hospital's Cancer Genetics Program and co-chair of the Breast Health Committee. "Every patient treated at Washington Hospital is provided access to highly trained specialists who are experts in the detection and treatment of breast disease. This multidisciplinary approach ensures that women will have coordinated and up-to-date treatment."

During the survey process, the center must demonstrate compliance with standards established by the NAPBC for treating women who are diagnosed with the full spectrum of breast disease. The standards include proficiency in the areas of: center leadership, clinical management, research, community outreach, professional education, and quality improvement. A breast center that achieves NAPBC accreditation has demonstrated a firm commitment to offer its patients every significant advantage in their battle against breast disease.

"The Breast Health Program is just part of what is offered at Washington Hospital, which also has the Washington Women's Center and Outpatient Imaging Center that provide the full range of imaging services," says radiologist Dr. Mimi Lin, director of mammography at Washington Hospital. "In women requiring additional evaluation from a screening or diagnostic mammogram, we can expedite the needed procedures. If a biopsy is necessary, we can often have the diagnosis within a week of the original screening mammogram."

Receiving care at a NAPBC-accredited center ensures that a patient will have access to:
* Comprehensive care, including a full range of state-of-the-art services;
* A multidisciplinary team approach to coordinate the best treatment options; and
* Information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment option.
Most importantly, though, it means quality breast care close to home.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimated that there would be 184,450 patients diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the Untied States in 2008. In addition, hundreds of thousands of women who will deal with benign breast disease this year will require medical evaluation for treatment options.

For more information about mammograms and other imaging services or to schedule your annual mammography screening at the Washington Women's Center, call (510) 791-3410. You can also visit us online at

Statement to Patients who Inquire about Mammography

With the recent news about the recommendation by a federal panel to end routine screening mammograms for women aged 40 to 49 who are at average risk, it's important for patients to understand the position of Washington Hospital regarding this issue.

Washington Hospital's approach to mammography has not changed.

While mammography is not a perfect screening tool, it is the best method currently available for detecting breast cancer. The Hospital will continue to provide mammograms consistent with the recommendations by the American Cancer Society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American College of Radiology and the American College of Surgeons. These organizations reviewed the same data as the federal panel as well as additional data the federal panel chose to exclude. As a result, the recommendation of these four clinical organizations has not changed and still recommend that women aged 40 and above to have a routine screening mammogram each year for the early detection of breast cancer. Patients should check with their own physician to determine the best time for them to start screening mammograms.

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