New Breast Center in Kazakhstan Marks Milestone for UPMC/Nazarbayev Partnership

By: Wendy Zellner

NAZARBAYEV_UNIVERSITY_KAZAKHSTAN_EXT_20140925_9140In a significant milestone for its partnership to improve cancer survival rates in Kazakhstan, UPMC, in collaboration with Nazarbayev University, recently opened a new Breast Center as part of the developing National Research Oncology Center (NROC) in Astana, the nation’s capital.

After overcoming a number of challenges, including getting medical equipment through customs and navigating cultural differences, the Breast Center began imaging patients in late October. More than 500 women quickly registered for appointments at the center, which houses the first tomosynthesis mammography unit in the country. 

Margarita Zuley, M.D., director of breast imaging at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, and her team will double read all of the cases at the Breast Center to ensure consistency in diagnosis and quality, and they will be conducting ongoing case reviews via telemedicine with their clinical counterparts in Kazakhstan.

Dr. Margarita Zuley

Dr. Margarita Zuley

According to Kazakhstan’s chief of oncology, government funding is expected to be available for 1,000 screening mammograms each month. The screenings are part of an effort to detect and treat cancer at earlier stages in a nation where more than 30,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed annually.

This is the first on-site clinical program for the Nazarbayev University/UPMC partnership, announced in May 2013. “Using our experience from this week, we will be better able to manage future start-up clinical and screening projects on the road to opening the National Research Oncology Center in 2016,” said Loretta Hanwell, vice president, UPMC International Services. “This center, along with our collaboration with pathologists, surgeons, radiologists, medical oncologists and many others, is already making a difference for the women of Kazakhstan.”