Breast cancer study uses personalized approach

December 14, 2017

Chances are you or a woman you love has had a mammogram, the current standard in breast cancer screening. And while mammograms have been beneficial in detecting breast cancer for thousands of women, some confusion remains about who exactly should be screened and when.

Finding clarity

Women have different risk factors, genetic makeups and family histories, so it’s easy to see that having one universal breast cancer screening recommendation might not be the best solution. But what is?

The Athena Breast Health Network’s Wisdom Study was created with the goal to answer that question.  In November, Sanford Health joined with the Athena Breast Health Network and the University of California, becoming the only site outside of California to offer the Wisdom Study. The study is funded, in part, by donations to the Edith Sanford Breast Foundation.

“With so many recommendations for breast cancer screening out there, it can be hard for patients and providers to know what is the right approach for them,” said Andrea Kaster, M.D., investigator of the Wisdom Study at Sanford Health. “Clinical studies like Wisdom help us use the latest imaging techniques and genetics, along with a patient’s personal history, to determine how best to screen women for breast cancer through a more personalized approach.”

About the study

The five-year study is designed to end the confusion about breast cancer screening. Researchers hope to discover the best screening guidelines by comparing two safe and accepted screening recommendations: annual and personalized screening.

“The Wisdom Study can be a valuable source of information for our patients,” said Melinda Talley, M.D., investigator of the Wisdom Study at Sanford Health. “As physicians, we assist our patients in making optimal health care decisions. This task is best accomplished with the most accurate information available, and trials like this make it possible.”

How it works

Women will be randomly assigned or selected to participate in one of two arms, or groups: annual or personalized screening, while continuing to receive the highest quality of care.

Those in the personalized screening arm will receive an at-home test kit where they provide a small amount of saliva to identify any changes in their genes. This helps determine the screening recommendation. High-risk women will screen every six months, average-risk women will screen every year and low-risk women will be advised to start screening at age 50 and repeat every other year.

Women placed in the annual screening group will be advised to receive a mammogram starting at age 40, with a repeat mammogram once a year. Women at a higher risk will receive a mammogram every six months.

Who can enroll

Women ages 40 to 74 with no personal history of breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ are eligible to enroll. Other criteria include being able to speak English and providing consent.

The benefits

Many previous advancements made in breast cancer screening and care were due to women participating in studies such as this one.

“You can help us determine the best screening approach for every woman, and that’s quite impactful,” Dr. Talley said.

Dr. Kaster agreed, adding that this study gives women access to unique opportunities. “If you join, you could also have access to advanced testing not routinely available as well as the latest information on breast health provided by a trusted source,” she said. “This is your chance to help yourself as well as other women and the next generation.”

Join today

To share your wisdom and join the Wisdom Study, start here.

Your support makes it possible

Consider a gift today to the Edith Sanford Breast Center to advance cutting-edge breast cancer research and patient care throughout the new year.