The Newsroom    Published Friday, Dec. 15, 2006, 4:34 PM
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UTMB fellowship program could reduce breast cancer deaths in coming years

Educating more breast imaging specialists will increase chances of early detection of deadly disease

FOR RELEASE: Dec. 15, 2006

GALVESTON, Texas ? As the second leading cause of cancer death among women, breast cancer is a concern for every woman. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 40,000 U.S. women died of breast cancer in 2005. To alleviate those odds, a UTMB doctor who has dedicated her career to the early detection of breast cancer, has given a generous cap-stone gift to complete an endowment that will allow the training of breast imaging specialists.

In her state-of-the-art clinic, Dr. Tuenchit Khamapirad directs the breast imaging section of the department of radiology at UTMB and provides compassionate care to women facing the possibility that they may have breast cancer. Early detection is key to surviving the disease but according to Khamapirad ? known to her patients and colleagues as “Dr. TK” ? few radiologists specialize in breast imaging.

She aims to change that through a breast imaging fellowship made possible by a fundraising initiative launched last year by Galveston community leaders Fredell and Lewis Rosen and Margaret and Jim Earthman, and completed with a gift from Khamapirad.

Both Margaret Earthman and Fredell Rosen had personal experiences with breast cancer and offered to co-chair the $1 million initiative to launch a breast imaging fellowship program that would allow one radiologist to serve a one-year fellowship to gain subspecialty training in breast cancer screening and diagnosis. The fellowships would be awarded annually. Sadly, Earthman lost her battle with cancer last year, but through the Earthmans’ and the Rosens’ efforts, most of the money for the program was raised within the year. Then, this fall, Khamapirad made a generous cap-stone gift to provide the remaining funds needed to support the fellowship. The first fellow began her training this fall.

“Only 10 percent of radiologists specialize in breast imaging,” Khamapirad said. “We need a lot more physicians trained in this field to help women.”

UTMB Dean of Medicine Garland Anderson praised Khamapirad for her efforts to educate a new and more abundant generation of breast imaging specialists.

“Dr. T.K has dedicated her career to the early detection of breast cancer, and indeed has a national reputation for her expertise,” Anderson said. “It is my hope, and I know the hope of many, that this fellowship will allow Dr. T.K. to train others who will excel, like she does, in early detection through breast imaging. Quite simply, the more radiologists who specialize in breast imaging, the better chance there is for early detection and survival. And these fellows will be training with the best. I am exceedingly grateful, but not surprised, that Dr. T.K has given so generously to this fellowship. It is another sign of her dedication to the health of women here in Galveston and in the nation.”

Rosen said Khamapirad’s gift was a selfless act to increase breast cancer survival rates.

“ Dr. TK has set the gold standard as a breast imaging specialist,” said Rosen who, thanks to Khamapirad’s keen eye and expertise, was spared from breast cancer through early detection. “With Dr. TK training more specialists in breast imaging, this program will have an expediential impact of the early detection of breast cancer.”
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Public Affairs Office
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144
http://www.utmb.edu/




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