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Furthering Commitment to Women, Hoag Expands Breast Imaging Services in Irvine

In Irvine, this summer Hoag will add a dedicated breast MRI to not only see more patients, but to allow more patients to be seen. Understanding the enormity of a cancer diagnosis or an elevated lifetime risk of breast cancer, Hoag is expanding its services with the intention of helping patients regain their sense of control.

“There is so much loss of control with a diagnosis, and we have to be sensitive to how much we ask people to do,” said Heather Macdonald, M.D., breast surgical oncologist and medical director of the Breast & Ovarian Cancer Prevention Program located at Hoag Health Center Irvine. “By expanding services and improving access, we are communicating to our patients that they are seen, cared for and a bit in control.

“This is just one of the investments that Hoag is making in the community of Irvine, one of the ever-expanding examples of how we are building our health care services for the community,” she said. “This MRI will increase access to care for women who have a new diagnosis of breast cancer and for women whose elevated risk of cancer necessitates additional imaging beyond a mammogram.”

While breast MRI does not replace mammography, it is a critical complement to standard imaging for high-risk women or women with dense breast tissue. And specialists often recommend MRI for women with newly diagnosed breast cancer to better determine the most effective course of treatment.

“Having our own dedicated machine logistically allows us to be more responsive to our newly diagnosed patients, who are often experiencing high levels of anxiety,” Dr. Macdonald said. “It speaks to the idea that every patient is important.”

The dedicated MRI will also support the Hoag Early Risk Assessment (HERA) program, a philanthropically funded initiative that informs, educates and empowers women about their breast cancer risk. MRI is recommended for women with a greater than 20% lifetime risk of breast cancer.

MRI-guided biopsies are also necessary for women whose breast tumors are not found on ultrasound or mammogram.

“For all their health care needs, people prefer the convenience of staying in their local community,” Dr. Macdonald said. “For women facing a new diagnosis of breast cancer, who are going to need intensive treatment over several weeks or months, the ability to help lessen the disruption to their lives is critical.”

For more information, call 888-219-9306.