A new study, the Wisdom Study, is currently recruiting women to figure out the best approach to Breast Cancer (BC) screening and how to improve it. Let’s find out more about it. 

Wisdom Breast Cancer Screening Study

The Wisdom study is enrolling 100,000 women in the age range of 40-74 years old. They are looking at women with no history of breast cancer or DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). The study is designed to investigate whether women over 40 should get a routine mammogram every year or whether the frequency of mammography should be determined by personal risk factors. 

Who is conducting the study?

The study is led by Dr. Laura Esserman, a surgeon, professor, and breast cancer oncology specialist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She is an excellent researcher and heads up the innovative I-SPY breast cancer study too. She is asking women to participate in the study for their own breast health, and also to make a difference to other women.

What is the study looking at?

The study is designed to answer the question of whether women should get a routine annual mammogram screening for breast cancer or whether  the frequency of mammography should be personalized to an individual’s risk factors. 

“This pragmatic trial will allow us to learn who is at risk for what type of breast cancer, and to continue to refine our approach to screening, potentially leading to less screening for those at very low risk and more for those at greater risk,” Esserman said. “It will enable us to focus on prevention as well. If our study is successful, fewer women will suffer from the anxiety of false-positive mammograms and unnecessary biopsies, and more women will gain a realistic understanding of their personal risk of breast cancer, which may reduce general worry about breast cancer.”    

What do participants do in the study?

There are two groups of women in the study. One group will get an annual mammogram and will be followed for five years. The second group will submit a saliva sample for genetic testing, to assess their risk of BC. The results of this test will determine the frequency of their mammogram. Based on gene results, mammogram frequencies for this group will be six months, annually, or every two years. Each year, all participants will also complete a questionnaire. No special doctors visits are required – just the mammography.  

Participants can choose to be randomized to either group, or they can request a specific group of their choice. 

The genetic testing will involve testing for nine genes (including BRCA1/2) and also several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Give careful consideration to this: not everyone wishes to know their BRCA status.

Why would I enroll in the Wisdom breast cancer screening study?

Participating in this study provides great opportunity to impact your own breast care. However, it also provides an opportunity for you to impact the care of other women. If you currently have routine mammograms, it might be worth considering joining this trial as it is an easy trial to participate in, and does not involve a lot of time. Insurance covers the costs for mammograms etc. 

You can read more information about the study on their website https://wisdom.secure.force.com/portal/WsdSiteFAQs and see if you are eligible. Right now it seems that the study is focusing initially on participants in California, through the  University of California at Davis, San Francisco, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sanford Health but they mention that other areas may be involved in the future. The following video explains a little more about the study too:

There are differing opinions regarding the use of mammograms for breast cancer screening. We need to evaluate it for ourselves and, hopefully, this study will help answer some questions. Whatever you currently do for breast cancer prevention, I urge you to remember the importance of self-breast exams and knowing your lemons.

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