Is it breast cancer? A new blood test helps women know for sure

This piece is presented by Avera.

Many women have experienced the fear and uncertainty of feeling a lump in their breast. While most lumps turn out to be benign, most women quickly jump to the conclusion that it also could turn out to be cancerous.

Finding out for sure just became a little easier through a new blood test that has found to be effective in ruling out cancer when results of mammograms and ultrasounds are inconclusive.

Before this test, a woman would have had to have a biopsy, which most often involves needle-guided ultrasound, mammography or MRI biopsy.

The Videssa Breast blood test looks for specific protein biomarkers and autoantibodies in the blood that might point to cancer. Studies show that it is almost 99 percent effective in proving a patient does not have breast cancer.

“This test is wonderful in that it saves numerous women from having unnecessary biopsies,” said Dr. Tricia Merrigan, Avera Medical Group breast surgeon.

“The vast majority of abnormal mammograms turn out to be benign, but before Videssa, we have needed to do a biopsy in many cases to find out for sure. Now, if the Videssa test comes back negative, we can give strong assurance that it is not breast cancer. If the test is positive, that tells us we should do more tests, such as a biopsy, to confirm whether or not it’s cancer.”

Kirsten Stotz of Sioux Falls is one of those patients who could go on with her life with confidence that she was cancer-free.

After feeling the lump, she waited a couple of months to see if it changed. When it didn’t, she told her doctor, who ordered a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound, as well as contrast-enhanced spectral mammogram, or CESM. These tests showed an area of abnormality that was in a different place than the lump that Stotz felt.

“I had a simple blood test and it came back in two weeks – thankfully, it was negative,” Stotz said. “So now I know I’m free from disease and good to go without further testing.”

Avera Cancer Institute took part in a national research study of Videssa. Now that the test has been proven effective, Avera was chosen to provide early access to it and continues to offer it in day-to-day breast diagnostic care.

“We’ve been involved in this research for the past five years,” said Dr. Josie Alpers, director of mammography at Avera Breast Center. “This is very exciting work.” Alpers noted that Videssa and the research surrounding it has been accepted as part of the federal government’s Cancer Moonshot program to transform cancer care and research.

“When a mammogram yields an abnormal result, the challenge is to decide which patients need follow-up, further imaging or biopsy,” Alpers said. “This test helps us accurately identify which patients may or may not need biopsy.”

When used with breast imaging tests, such as digital mammography and CESM, Videssa could reduce the need for breast biopsy by up to 67 percent. Without the use of Videssa, based on age, 70 percent to 90 percent of breast biopsy results are benign.

“The results of the study we participated in have confirmed that Videssa is extremely effective in ruling out breast cancer,” Alpers said. “After an abnormal mammogram, this is exactly what women need to know.”

“With Videssa, we’ve already helped numerous women, either by giving them peace of mind or by quickly moving ahead to biopsy and diagnosing breast cancer as soon as possible in order to begin treatment,” Merrigan said.

For information, call the Avera Cancer Institute Navigation Center at 888-422-1410.

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Is it breast cancer? A new blood test helps women know for sure

A new blood test has found to be effective in ruling out breast cancer when results of mammograms and ultrasounds are inconclusive.

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