Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women, with experts for decades giving recommendations for consistent screenings and mammograms. Epidemiologists predict that in the months following COVID-19 vaccinations, we will see advanced breast cancer diagnoses, due to the drop in mammographies during the pandemic. During this most critical time, the long-awaited breast cancer prevention program has made its debut with Jessica Treviño Jones, MD, an internist and oncologist with UT Physicians, leading the charge.
Goal of the program
Jones, who’s also an assistant professor in the Division of Oncology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, says the overall goal of the program is simple – to prevent breast cancer.
“It’s projected that approximately 50% of breast cancer can be prevented. While primary providers know it, there are many reasons they themselves cannot reach the women at increased risk,” said Jones. “In response to this health crisis, UT Physicians created this innovative clinic which will lead to personalized cancer prevention plans with collaboration between front-line primary providers and oncologists.”
Housed within the UT Physicians Multispecialty – Bayshore clinic, the breast cancer prevention program provides multiple services including a personalized breast cancer risk assessment for each patient, and then implementing any service necessary. This can range from increased surveillance to prescribing risk-reducing medications. Additionally, Jones works with patients to manage modifiable risk factors like weight and diet.
“Every woman is different and has unique needs to address her breast cancer risk,” said Jones. “That’s why we go beyond the personalized assessment, and follow through on the recommendations in the clinic itself. There are barriers that limit front-line providers from being able to order these tests. We want to meet that need for our patients, and for our primary providers.”
Along with subspecialized primary care with oncologists, patients also benefit from dedicated nurse navigators who will act as their point of contact for appointments, test results, and referrals if needed.
Who can benefit from the program
Women who are considered at high risk are candidates for the program; however, many aren’t aware they fall into that category until they’ve received a diagnosis.
Jones says that certain physical factors and family history components can contribute to an individual’s risk factor, such as the following:
- A family history of breast cancer
- Any history of a breast biopsy
- Dense breasts
- Being overweight, especially after menopause
- Having children later in life, or not at all
- Hormone use, especially within the last five years
- Starting puberty early or menopause late
- A history of noncancerous breast lesions
How to schedule an appointment
An appointment may be scheduled by visiting the UT Physicians Multispecialty – Bayshore page here or calling 713-486-6325. Telemedicine is available for those who wish to conduct a virtual appointment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This program has taken a long time to develop, and it just so happened that it opened during the time of the coronavirus,” said Jones. “We’re here to fight the odds for every woman. COVID-19 and breast cancer have met their match.”