New Karmanos software to ID, manage patients at high risk of cancer

DETROIT–Officials at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute announced the adoption of Volpara Risk Pathways, software designed to simplify risk assessment and patient management for various cancers, including breast, lung, ovarian, and colorectal cancer.

This new preventative tool has been implemented as part of Karmanos’ high-risk breast cancer program. It is available to patients receiving a screening or diagnostic mammogram at the Women’s Wellness Clinic in Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit and at the Karmanos Cancer Institute – Lawrence and Idell Weisberg Cancer Center in Farmington Hills.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. Breast cancer is predicted to be the second leading cause of cancer death in women. This makes it imperative for women to not only receive regular mammography screenings but, together with their healthcare providers, understand their risk of developing breast cancer so they can be triaged to additional care if necessary.

“The biggest danger with high-risk breast cancer patients is that they don’t know they’re high-risk,” said Eric Brown, M.D., surgical oncologist and co-leader of the Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Team at Karmanos. Brown has been implementing Volpara’s program in his everyday practice. He believes this system will help identify more women and allow the Women’s Wellness Clinic experts to recommend the best course of prevention for each patient. “Breast cancer risk assessment is a priority for Karmanos in our effort to enable early cancer detection. Volpara allows us to inform patients of their risk and provide the care that is right for them.”

The patient plays a significant role in their risk assessment by providing personal and family health history details. These details include who in their immediate family has had certain cancers and when they were diagnosed with those cancers. When patients make an appointment at Karmanos for their mammography screening, they will receive an invite by email and text message to complete the assessment before their screening appointment. Once a patient’s personal risk information has been collected, Karmanos can access a set of risk models and clinical guidelines to accurately identify and triage high-risk patients for follow-up care, including genetic testing and additional medical imaging, such as more frequent mammography screenings, ultrasound or breast MRI. With the family health history that the patient discloses in their assessment, specialists can also identify risk factors for lung, ovarian and colorectal cancer.

“When Dr. Brown came to us about Volpara, we knew it would be an opportunity for us to help our patients get ahead of a breast cancer diagnosis and more,” said Natasha Robinette, M.D., radiologist and clinical service chief of imaging. “Implementing the program allows us to manage what prevention and screening look like for each patient. We’re giving patients a more individualized plan based on their risk assessment. With Volpara, we’re assessing the patient’s total health. We can use this tool to identify women with an increased lifetime risk of other cancers, such as lung, ovarian and colorectal cancer. Based on their risk, we can guide these women to appropriate screening for early detection of additional cancers and counsel them on preventative measures and impactful wellness changes. Until there is a cure, early detection is the best chance we can give patients if they face a cancer diagnosis. Volpara is one of the many tools we use to inform us of what each patient may need so that we can find cancer early should it develop.”

When a risk has been determined, Karmanos will communicate to the patient and their primary healthcare provider. This communication will inform the patient and their provider of recommendations to help detect cancer in the early stages. Patients will periodically update their risk assessment when visiting for a screening appointment. They will also have the opportunity to update their profile when needed.

For more information on Karmanos’ high-risk breast cancer program and to schedule a mammography, visit or call 1-800-KARMANOS.

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