New questionnaire aims to improve breast cancer risk assessment

September 18, 2023

A team from the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center is looking to more accurately determine a woman’s risk for breast cancer. This month, the Hawaiʻi and Pacific Islands Mammography Registry (HIPIMR) will launch a new questionnaire that aims to standardize breast health information collected at mammography clinics around Hawaiʻi and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI).

This public impact research will allow researchers and doctors to better calculate breast cancer risk as well as develop a risk model more appropriate for the state’s unique populations in comparison to the continental U.S.

“Currently, many imaging sites across the state and USAPI are collecting inadequate information to accurately determine a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer in the future using current breast cancer risk models,” said John Shepherd, UH Cancer Center researcher and project lead. “This information can be used to make better recommendations on when women should begin screening, what resources are needed, and identify patterns that can help clinics be more effective at catching breast cancer in its early stages.”

The HIPIMR, maintained by UH Cancer Center researchers, is a computerized database of women undergoing breast imaging in the state of Hawaiʻi. It currently contains more than 45 million images. Data included are demographic, clinical, and risk factor information; breast imaging interpretations; and cancer outcomes and vital status obtained through linkage with the Hawaiʻi Tumor Registry and Hawaiʻi State Department of Health and Vital Records.

There is no cost to participate in the registry. The HIPIMR will collect breast imaging and breast health information from women who opt in at participating radiology and MRI imaging practices in Hawaiʻi. Women from the USAPI are also being asked to participate.

Breast cancer data collected by the UH Cancer Center has previously shown that Native Hawaiian and Japanese women have the highest incidence of breast cancer, and Native Hawaiian women have the highest breast cancer mortality in the state. In addition, there is a higher percentage of advanced breast cancer in Asian American women in the USAPI compared to the continental U.S.

“We hope to learn more about how mammograms and advanced breast imaging tests can best detect breast cancer and what characteristics of women and tumors influence detection,” said Shepherd. “Building this understanding can make screening more efficient and improve the outcomes for women with breast cancer.”

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