Breast Center opens at University of Chicago Hospitals

Breast Center opens at University of Chicago Hospitals

April 9,1999

On Friday, April 9, 1999, Illinois Lieutenant Governor and breast cancer survivor Corinne Wood helped the University of Chicago Hospitals celebrate the opening of its new comprehensive Breast Center. This multidisciplinary facility brings together the full spectrum of clinical and support services--ranging from risk assessment and genetic testing to screening and diagnosis to treatment, support groups, a boutique for breast cancer patients, and counseling.

The Breast Center, located on the second floor of the Hospitals' award-winning Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, gives patients easy access to a team of caregivers who collaborate in every decision. For the patient, this means having a variety of state-of-the art services--such as risk counseling, digital mammography, computer-assisted detection and diagnosis, ultrasound, MRI-scanning, sentinel lymph node biopsy, social and psychological support--all in an environment of convenience, simplicity and efficiency.

The University of Chicago Hospitals has long been a leader in the understanding and treatment of breast cancer. In 1941, University of Chicago surgeon Charles Huggins published the successful results of the first cases of hormone therapy for cancer, a discovery that earned him the Nobel Prize. In 1951, he demonstrated that hormone therapies could help patients even with advanced breast cancer.

Huggins' colleague Elwood Jensen then developed a way to identify which breast cancers would benefit from hormone therapy. Now, all breast cancers are classified as estrogen-receptor positive or negative, an important guide to prognosis and therapy. Medications that can block the effects of estrogen, such as tamoxifen, have become important tools in the treatment and even prevention of breast cancer.

In 1961, Dr. Huggins developed an experimental model of estrogen-dependent human breast cancer, the lack of which had been a major obstacle to research.

That tradition of innovation continues. In 1986, the Hospitals were the first in the United States to perform stereotactic needle biopsies, a diagnostic tool that can prevent unnecessary surgery. The Cancer Risk Clinic, formed in 1992, was the first of its kind in the Chicago area and has become a national leader in breast cancer risk assessment and genetic counseling and testing. The world's first computer-assisted mammography system was developed by researchers at the University and has been applied in the clinic since 1995. An experimental digital mammography system was installed last year.