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Intermountain begins blood study for breast cancer

MURRAY, Utah — A new study hopes to find out if breast cancer can be detected in someone’s blood much earlier than it’s found on a mammogram.


Linda Warner’s breast cancer was found early, on her yearly mammogram.


“I’m a believer in early detection,” she said.


Her mother died of breast cancer. She wants a better future for her daughters, so she sat with Intermountain Doctors Brett Parkinson and Lincoln Nadauld as they announced their team effort on a major new 3 year study looking to eventually create an early blood test for breast cancer.


“We want to find tumors before they are a problem,” said Dr Parkinson, the medical director for the Breast Care Center at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.


“We know all cancers spill DNA into the blood,” explained Dr Nadauld, with the Intermountain Precision Genomics Program, based in St George.


He says they will draw blood from hundreds of women undergoing screening. Genomics researchers will compare blood to women known to have breast cancer and they will see if and when cancer shows up in the blood.


“I would hope by the end of my career, we have a test that is better, and no woman would have to die from breast cancer,” said Dr Parkinson.


They emphasize that mammography is not going away, because doctors would still need to identify where the tumor is, but they could catch it so much earlier if this test works.


And they are urging more Utah women to get a yearly mammogram; they say Utah’s rate is too low.


“The only way to cure cancer is to detect it early,” said Dr Nadauld.