Wisdom Study offers new, more individualized approach to breast cancer screening

Published: Mar. 16, 2018 at 6:54 PM CDT
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If you are a woman over the age of 40, you may go in for a mammogram every year. Maybe every other year. Maybe not at all.

There has been a little bit of confusion over the guidelines, if and when you should get screened for breast cancer.

Now, a National Study out of the University of California, takes a new look at a screening for breast cancer. The study is happening in five clinics nationwide and one of them is right here in Sioux Falls.

Jacqueline Cole is participating in Wisdom Study at the Edith Sanford Breast Center.

"Saw it on the internet and it was local," Participant Jacqueline Cole said.

Breast Cancer runs in her family.

"Knowing it was here and local and something that is family-related, I was very interested in getting in and being a part of it," Cole said.

The five-year Wisdom Study will test a new model. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, it's more individualized that may involve family history, breast density, DNA testing, different imaging techniques or fewer screenings.

"The professional guidelines out there vary. That's one of the reasons for this study," Sanford Health Genetic Counselor Larissa Risty said.

Larissa Risty is a Genetic Counselor for Sanford Health. She says some women are told to get their mammogram starting every year at age 40. Some are told to get their mammogram every other year starting at age 50.

"Those are two very different, a decade different. Plus, when you start, are you doing a mammogram every year or every other year. There is a lot of confusion around breast cancer screening. Women and providers don't know how to approach this for every single person. Which is why this type of a study is helpful in the future to determine if that annual screening mammogram versus a more individualized approach is as safe as effective in breast cancer screening," Risty said.

With any medical screening tool, there may not be one perfect answer.

"To gather that data and understand how women progress through a more individualized screening approach is the first step in getting to a better conclusion," Risty said.

That's why Jacqueline is so motivated to be a part of it.

"You're going in and having your mammogram done every year anyway. Why not combine your research and see what other tweaks in our makeup or ability to predict and keep healthy put it all together," she said. "Whenever there is a study that can turn around and, not only help my generation, but the generations after us be healthier, it sort of draws me in."

You can participate in the study by signing up at Participants say it's very quick and easy. The study looks for women ages 40-74 who have not had a previous diagnosis of breast cancer.