Women of WISDOM don't let their friends stay confused! Screening is so important.

Women of WISDOM don't let their friends stay confused! Screening is so important.

Going from red to pink in 30 seconds and a call to put my money where my mouth is! Why screening is so important!

I was sitting on the couch just last week when a sensitive issue on women’s health came up:  Research was showing that breast cancer survivors had a higher risk for heart disease.
Great…  Just GREAT!
I was immediately reminded of the struggles I had to go through to make sure I got the preventive care I needed after my diagnosis.  Because of the type of insurance coverage, I depended on ‘official’ published guidelines.  That meant that if I wanted additional screening, I had to either wait because of these suggested “guidelines”, or pay out of pocket to get a mammogram for my peace of mind (which doesn’t come cheap!).  What if I have a history of breast cancer in my family?
I don’t. And yet I still was diagnosed with it.
Much has been said about screening for prevention; however one can also ascertain that inappropriate or unnecessary screenings lead to excessive treatment options.  Was I just a number in the statistic of women under 50 who get diagnosed with carcinoma in-situ? Did I really need the surgery, radiation and medication? More importantly, which is the right guideline to follow? Is screening for prevention doing more harm than good?
Aren’t we supposed to be on the road to “personalized medicine”?
Around the same time, Dr. Andrea LaCroix had talked about UCSD’s WISDOM study, seeking to answer the questions that surround the controversy on screening for breast cancer as its main objective.  In an article published on the UC San Diego Health website, she comments: “Screening guidelines for breast cancer have changed many times over recent years and seem to be in a constant state of flux. The WISDOM trial’s goal is to test annual screening versus a personalized schedule based on a woman’s clinical and genetic risk factors for breast cancer. The study should determine which strategy produces the most benefit for women and the least harm.”  Dr. La Croix is Professor and Chief of Epidemiology in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the study.

Tracy Layton, Program Manager for the Wisdom Study at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center,  explained that the WISDOM study (Women Informed to Screen Depending On Measures of risk) aims to clarify breast cancer screening guidelines regarding frequency and age at which women should receive their screening mammograms. “There are many different guidelines by different organizations, and this adds a lot of confusion for women regarding their own health.  The trial is comparing yearly screening to a personalized screening approach.  The personalized screening will provide a mammogram timeline based on participant’s individual risk factors (age, personal and family history, genetic tests for genes (mutations and variations) linked to the development of breast cancer).  We currently have consented over 3,000 women locally (over 8,800 program-wide), but still need many more.  Eligibility is quite open: female, age 40-74, no history of breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ, receives health care in California or at Sanford Health.”  


Sure enough!  I googled “Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines” and was appalled at the difference in information that came up on the CDC’s website.  Take a look for yourself.

Isn’t it time we set the record straight for our sakes?

Your participation in this study will help women get the preventive care they REALLY need: accurately screening for prevention and avoiding the misdiagnosis that might ultimately lead to the uncertainties of dealing with breast cancer: unnecessary surgery, treatment, medication and the cost of all of it!  If I could, I would put my money where my mouth is… preferably with pink lipstick!
An explanation of the study can be seen below.   You can also download more information here.


So if you haven’t had your mammogram this year, would you?  If you’ve already had your mammogram, or plan to, share your data with the Wisdom study.  Here’s how:

And this, is what women’s health research is all about!  Six minutes CAN save your life!


About the Doris A. Howell Foundation:

The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research is dedicated to making a long term, significant impact on women’s health with the goal of “Keeping the Women we Love Healthy.” It is the premier organization in San Diego focused exclusively on advancing women’s health through research and education. We prepare young scientists for a career in women’s health research through research scholarships,  fund studies specific to “at-risk” and underserved women, and educate the public on the latest research in women’s health.


Summary prepared by Carolyn Northrup for the Doris Howell Foundation with information from the following sources: 

Shutterstock image licensed to Carolyn Northrup. 

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