The Avon Comprehensive Breast Care Center at SFGH Celebrates the Mammovan Makeover!

The following article was written by Lori Strachowski, M.D., Clinical Professor of Radiology, Director of Women’s Imaging at San Francisco General Hospital, and Medical Director of the Avon Comprehensive Breast Care Center

On Friday April 27th, from 1-3 pm PST, the Avon Comprehensive Breast Care Center at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) will host an open house and ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the mammography van’s new look, thanks to a generous gift by Cummins West and Kevin &  Connie Shanahan! The unadorned, plain white face of the old mammography van, sometimes perceived as stark and uninviting, now displays greater-than-life size photographs of women of various ages representing the diverse patient population that the mammovan serves. The beautiful graphics help convey the SFGH Breast Care Program mission statement of providing “Comprehensive breast care, education and research in a compassionate and culturally sensitive environment.” The event is open to the public, so stop by for a peek and light refreshments. Please, simply RSVP to [email protected] by April 23 if you intend to join us!

The Avon Comprehensive Breast Care Center, made possible by the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade, is a 4500 square foot facility located at the intersection of 22 Street and Main Campus Drive adjacent to SFGH. The state-of-art facility which opened its doors in July 2004, houses 3 digital mammography units, 2 ultrasound machines for targeted breast ultrasounds and ultrasound guided biopsies, and a prone table for stereotactic core biopsies. Breast MRI exams are performed within the main hospital.  The center currently provides over 11,000 breast imaging studies annually, which represents more than a 70% increase in volume over the past 7 years. The center is open to all San Francisco residents and serves as the “safety net” for all uninsured and underinsured women in San Francisco.

The affectionately named “mammovan” was gifted to the San Francisco General Medical Center and hit the streets in February 2005, after the program was resurrected with a complete digital renovation in 2000 by the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Cancer Center with help from the Gap Foundation. The mammovan currently travels several times a week to the neighboring San Francisco Community Health Network clinics breaking the barriers of transportation, access, and language fluency as interpretation services are “part of the package”. In fact, bilingual navigators are available onsite at the center 5 days a week, assisting Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese speaking women with patient questionnaires, while also providing both educational and emotional support. In addition, interpretation for more than 15 languages is provided by SFGH Medical Center Interpreter Services, making everyone feel at home.

Remember, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and the second most fatal after lung cancer, taking the lives of nearly 40,000 women a year.  Breast cancer survival is linked to early detection and treatment with disparities in mortality rates recognized among the underprivileged and certain minorities.  Despite the current uncertainties and controversies in national screening guidelines, what we do know is that “Mammography screening saves liveswith at least a 30% reduction in deaths due to breast cancer in women who are screened annually.  Here in radiology at SFGH and UCSF, we strongly promote early detection with annual screening mammography for women age 40 and above, and strive to provide unparalleled, high-quality breast screening and diagnostic imaging services to all women.

With the mammovan, all women have access to the breast cancer screening options they need and deserve. Learn more information and spread the word today.