UCSF Sisters Collaborate on Breast Cancer Pilot Study and More

For Heather Greenwood, MD and her sister, Eleni Greenwood, MD, MSc, their connection to breast cancer is very personal. Their mother, Robin Beth Greenwood, passed away from breast cancer at the age of 35. Dr. Heather Greenwood is an assistant professor of Clinical Radiology in the Breast Imaging section at the UC San Francisco Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging. Dr. Eleni Greenwood joins the faculty at the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences in January 2020. Together, along with Amie Lee, MD and Elissa Price, MD, UCSF Radiology faculty, they conducted a pilot study of screening mammography published in Clinical Imaging.

At present, there are no guidelines regarding breast cancer screening in women under 40 prior to assisted reproductive technology (ART), meaning the prevalence of abnormal findings on screening mammography in this population is unknown. The purpose of this pilot study was to describe screening mammography outcomes in women less than 40 years old, referred for the indication of pre-ART.

The study included 80 women less than 40 years old presenting for screening mammography prior to ART between January 2010 and March 2017. Clinical history, breast cancer risk factors, imaging and pathology results were gathered from the electronic medical record. They detected 1 cancer in 80 women undergoing screening mammography prior to assisted reproductive technology. They concluded that in women under the age of 40 who plan to undergo ART, screening mammography may identify breast malignancies. This is significant given that many breast cancers are hormone sensitive. Thus, fertility treatments may affect tumor growth. They authors note that larger studies are needed. 

"Given our history, a lot of our personal interest in young women and early detection, it was so great to get to work on this project together," says Dr. Greenwood.

This is not the first time that the Greenwood sisters have teamed up. Each year, they host Robin's Ride, an annual event that raises money for the Robin Beth Greenwood Foundation for Breast Cancer Research at UCSF while also celebrating the life of their mother. When their mother was diagnosed with breast cancer it was almost unheard of for someone in their young 30s to get this disease. The goal of the foundation is to donate to cutting edge research and breast cancer care/treatments at UCSF so that fewer children lose their mom and less women (and men) lose their fight against breast cancer. 

The department looks forward to talking about more collaborative breast cancer research in the future.

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