NEW ORLEANS —
Mammograms save lives. Millions of them. We know that. But there is controversy over when and how often to do them, with recommendations constantly changing.
But now a free study you can do right in your home hopes to answer that question.
Jennifer Morvant had many relatives on her mother’s side with breast cancer.
"My grandmother and all of her sisters lost breasts because of breast cancer," said Jennifer Morvant, 44.
So she started getting mammograms early on, only at the age of 36.
"It’s always been a fear because you just never know that every time you go get the mammogram you’re just waiting for the bad news," said Morvant.
But now she knows her risk. She decided to join the Wisdom Study. It’s free and all done at home online.
"It was very easy. They kept me updated regularly and stayed on top of it, and I got my results pretty quickly too," she said after signing up for the study.
There’s free saliva test that you mail in. That looks for genes that increase your cancer risk. Your mammograms are done as usual with your doctor. The Wisdom Study is hoping to find out if mammograms are more beneficial with a one size fits all approach or with a personalized schedule, depending on your risks.
LSU Health is part of the national study.
"It’s not the same thing being a 80-year-old woman who has never had breast cancer in her family, than a 40-year-old woman who has three sisters with breast cancer and her mother had breast cancer," explained Dr. Agustin Garcia, the Section Chief of Hematology Oncology at LSU Health Sciences Center.
Across the U.S. they are hoping to sign up 100,000 women. It’s critical because some women don’t know when to come in while others go too frequently for mammograms.
"We have had people who have been in the study who have learned that they have a genetic mutation and they have no family history, so they would have never known if they hadn’t been part of the study," said Allison Stover Fiscalini, the Director of the Athena Breast Health Network and the Wisdom Study Dir. Wisdom Study.
Jennifer got good news from the testing.
"They said I did not have the genes, so that was a big huge relief," said Morvant.
And by signing up for the study, she’ll also help women and future generations.
The Athena Breast Health Network at UC San Francisco is sponsoring the study. It’s for women 40 to 74 who have not had breast cancer in the past. Anybody interested in signing up can click here.