DANVILLE — Women in the area have the chance to participate in a landmark study looking at screening methods for breast cancer.

Carle Cancer Center is participating in the National Cancer Institute’s TMIST randomized study to compare two types of digital mammography (2 dimensional or 3-D) for breast cancer screenings.

About 900 women have already been signed up through Carle’s Mills Breast Cancer Institute, and now the study is being opened to Vermilion County women ages 45-75.

Eligible women are those who plan to have a routine screening, and who do not have or have not had breast cancer. There is no additional cost involved, beyond the cost of the mammogram, and no extra time or hassle involved.

“This is a landmark trial,” said Dr. Ken Rowland, medical oncologist with Carle who is an enthusiastic supporter of the study. “This is going to change how we screen for breast cancer.”

The women who have already signed up are the “real heroes,” he said, who want to make a difference for the next generation of women.

“We know screening helps save lives,” Rowland said. But with the current “one size fits all” approach, women are screened the same way based on age-specific guidelines.

Women have different levels of risk, raising the questions of who needs what type of screening and how often, Rowland said.

Carle offers both standard 2-D, which takes pictures from two sides of the breast to create a flat image, and 3-D, a newer technology called tomosynthesis mammography, where images are taken from different angles around the breast and then built into a 3-D-like image. Women choose which one they want, based on personal preference or insurance requirements.

The 3-D mammography uses twice the radiation dose and takes more time to read the images, Rowland said. And the procedure may result in call-backs and more false positives.

“It’s stressful to get a callback if you don’t need it,” said Samantha Wright, clinical research coordinator at Carle.

The study will look at whether 3-D mammography or 2-D is better at finding breast cancers before they become more difficult to treat.

Another component of the study is to build a tissue bank for future research.

Women who join the trial have the option of submitting tissue samples, such as blood and swabs of cells from inside their mouths.

These samples will help researchers decide the best ways to screen for breast cancer by taking genetics and other personal risk factors into account.

“Any biological correlation will help us figure out how to tailor screenings more precisely (to the patient),” Rowland said.

Carle is the only site in this area to participate in the study, due to its 30-year affiliation with the National Cancer Institute.

Thus, women may live in any city, but must have their mammograms at Carle in Danville or Urbana. They may continue to see their own physicians.

Women will be assigned numbers (rather than using their names). Everything is confidential and private.

Women will be asked to give demographic information (such as race and ethnicity), but will not have to do surveys.

The study started in September 2017, Wright said. Nationwide, 156,000 women are being sought to participate in the study; about 12,000 have been signed up so far.

Carle has the second-highest recruitment number in the country, and even has the first woman to sign up for the study.

“We have a great opportunity” to improve screening for breast cancer, Rowland said, and many women already recognize the importance of the study. “We want to get answers and have better care.”

There is no deadline to sign up for the study, which is expected to continue for another five years. Women may opt out at any time.

Carle will include information about the study when mammogram reminders are sent to patients. Carle provides 4,100 mammograms a year in the east region, which includes Danville and Hoopeston locations.

Carle also is involved in about 200 treatment trials for other cancers.

FYI

To enroll in the study, call (217) 383-6846 or email Cancer.Research@Carle.com.

Another site for information is https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/clinical-trials/nci-supported/tmist

Indiana University in Indianapolis also is a trial site.