Challenges of a High Risk Breast/Ovarian Cancer Program

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Terry-BucknallBy Terry Lynn Bucknall, CRA, BA, RT(R)(M)

As medical professionals, we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to help save a life, and imaging centers can often be a first point of contact for a patient. Cancer risk assessment is a current hot topic and a very important piece of the medical decision making process.

Historically, technologists’ roles have been seen as “button pushers” without the latitude to be more involved in patient care. Today, technologists have a responsibility to become involved in the patient care process. Technologists, especially in breast imaging, form relationships with their patients and have the perfect opportunity to identify high risk patients and educate them during the screening visits. Thanks to celebrities such as Angelina Jolie sharing their stories, we have an easier time bringing up the topic of breast and ovarian cancer risk to a patient.

Creating a cancer risk assessment program is not a simple task and takes time and dedication from everyone involved. The challenges that pop up can include buy-in from all staff members, staff education, cooperation with medical providers, recognizing resources to meet the qualification criteria for the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer (COC) surveys (including Accredited Cancer Programs and National Accreditations Programs for Breast Centers), and the overall workflow of the process.

My presentation at the 2015 Annual Meeting, “Challenges of a High Risk Breast/Ovarian Cancer Program,” will detail how our breast imaging center built our cancer risk assessment program, built our workflow, overcame the many challenges that we were faced with, and how we continually “tweak” our program. I will also discuss the outcomes and the number of patients you can expect to counsel and genetically test. In other words, I’m giving you a recipe for your success!

The effort that goes into a high risk program is a huge commitment, but it is worth it to know that we have the opportunity to save a life and that we are doing the RIGHT THING for our patients.

Challenges of a High Risk Breast/Ovarian Cancer Program will be presented on Sunday, July 19 at 4:30 PM. Click here to register for the 2015 Annual Meeting.

Terry L. Bucknall, CRA, BA, RT(R)(M) is the director of women’s imaging at Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center in Valencia, CA. She can be reached at

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