Now Offering the First Blood Test for Breast CancerLast updated: Jan 09, 2017
Finding out your mammogram looks suspicious can be distressing and confusing news. Nearly one in every five women who come in for a mammogram have questionable results and are sent for follow-up studies. For some, this includes a minimally invasive breast biopsy — a procedure that uses a thin needle to remove and examine pieces of the breast tissue.
Reducing the Need for Biopsies
Physicians at Summit Medical Group hope to reduce the number of women who have to undergo breast biopsies. The Breast Care Center is now offering a new cutting-edge blood test called Videssa® Breast that can detect the presence or absence of breast cancer in women with difficult-to-interpret imaging results. Summit Medical Group was the first breast center in the tristate area to offer the test to select patients that meet the criteria. “As imaging technology has become more sophisticated, radiologists are finding lesions (abnormalities in the breast tissue) at smaller sizes. As a result, we are finding more breast cancers, but we are also finding more benign lesions too,” says Winnie Polen, DO, an attending breast surgeon at Summit Medical Group, and the principal investigator on the clinical trial. “Videssa is exciting because it enables us to obtain information about lesions in the breast tissue without having an invasive procedure.”
Effectiveness of Videssa®
Before the blood test was available, the standard of care was to put up to nine out of 10 women through a biopsy that ended up showing benign results.
A clinical trial found that Videssa® had a sensitivity and specificity of more than 80 percent when determining if cancer was present. Furthermore, the blood test reduced the number of recommended biopsies by 63 percent. “The beauty of Videssa is that it can significantly decrease the number of women who undergo biopsies while identifying the same number of cancers,” says John Cunningham, MD, surgical service line director at Summit Medical Group. “Biopsies are an important diagnostic tool that save lives, but it is essential that we find a better way to determine when to use them.”
Is It Right for You?
Dr. Polen says physicians at the Summit Medical Group Breast Care Center will work with patients to determine if Videssa® is right for them. Women who are eligible for the test have blood drawn and sent to the laboratory. By combining the Videssa® results with imaging tests, medical history, family history, and a physical exam, physicians can better determine if a biopsy is needed.
Even though it is widely known mammograms can produce false-positive results, Dr. Polen says they remain the gold standard for breast cancer screening. She urges all women to have an annual breast exam starting at the age of 20 and to begin discussing initiating annual breast imaging at the age of 40. Women with a strong family history of cancer should talk to their physician even earlier.
Ask your physician if Videssa® is right for you. The blood test is most helpful for women who have mammogram results that fall into questionable categories:
- BI-RADS 3 (probably benign)
- BI-RADS 4 (suspicious)