Despite the body of breast cancer research accumulated over the years, standards for breast cancer screenings and mammograms are all over the map. Some guidelines say to begin annual screenings at age 45; others recommend biennial testing for women ages 50–74.
Researchers at the Athena Breast Health Network, along with partners such as the Berkeley Heights–based Summit Medical Group and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, are working to end the confusion through an initiative called the Wisdom Study, which assesses the effectiveness of personalized versus annual screenings.
“Our approach in this study is really taking all of that great knowledge that we now have about breast cancer biology and trying to incorporate it into when someone should be screened,” says Allison Stover Fiscalini, director of the Athena Breast Health Network.
Women ages 40–74 with no prior history of breast cancer, including stage 0 breast cancer, can sign up for the study at wisdomstudy.org. Participants undergo a five-year period of observation. During that time, researchers monitor the number of breast cancers, in addition to biopsies and false positives that occur in each group. Women are also surveyed on their emotional well-being.
Summit Medical Group has been promoting the study to patients since March. Overall, nearly 18,000 women have been fully enrolled in the study since 2016, mostly from the original testing sites in five states; New Jersey is the first East Coast state to participate.
“Participation in this study can make a big difference to the health and peace of mind of all women now and for future generations of women,” says Dr. Priya Jadeja, a breast surgeon with Summit Medical Group.