More Study Detail
What will my blood be used for?
In the first five years of the study, we plan to examine genes that may be associated with breast density. Understanding what genes are associated with breast density will provide a greater understanding of what breast density represents at the tissue level and what controls breast density. In later years, we plan to research protein markers that circulate in the blood, with the hope of developing a screening test for breast cancer, much like a PSA for prostate cancer. The hope is that in the future we will be able to use such information to provide women with a clearer picture of their risk of breast cancer long before breast cancer develops. Accomplishing this goal will make it possible for women to make better-informed decisions about screening and prevention.
Why are you studying HRT now?
We recognize that some physicians now recommend that their patients discontinue, or reduce, their use of combination estrogen and progestins as hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms. You might wonder why we continue to ask questions about HRT when women are not as likely be prescribed this therapy in the future.
Although some women have stopped HRT or will stop over the next few years, a large number of women continue to take hormone therapy. Also, there are many women who have formerly used HRT. Information gathered as part of this study may make it possible to provide information about the risk of breast cancer to women from each of these groups of HRT users. For instance, HRT-induced changes in breast density may serve as a marker of breast cancer risk. This research will help clarify that question. It is still very important to be able to obtain information from women currently using HRT, or those who used HRT in the past, in order to describe more completely the breast cancer risk in these groups.
Should I be worried if I have dense breasts?
Breasts that have a higher proportion of dense tissue (whether measured as percent, patterns, volume, etc) result in mammograms that are harder for radiologists to read for evidence of breast cancer. However, the biological importance of breast density, is still under investigation. The current knowledge about the association between breast density and breast cancer risk is such that it is not appropriate for you to make clinical decisions for screening or prevention of breast cancer. Women are currently not considered to be at high risk of developing breast cancer solely because they have dense breasts.
Why do I have to wait for my next mammogram to be part of this study?
The information gathered over the course of this study will describe women who are receiving routine mammograms. This study will be enrolling patients for three and a half years. You will have an opportunity to participate when you come to the Mayo Clinic for your regularly scheduled mammogram. There is no need to make a special appointment just to be a part of the study.
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