Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is covering the cost for 5,000 of its members to participate in a five-year study designed to improve screening guidelines for mammograms.
The Women Informed to Screen Depending On Measures of Risk study is looking to clarify which method is safer and more effective for women: routine yearly screening or a personalized screening schedule that takes into consideration genetic and other personal factors like age, family history and breast density.
Funded with support from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the study is being conducted by The Athena Breast Health Network – a group of breast cancer experts, health care providers, researchers and patient advocates at five University of California medical centers.
According to Horizon, eligible members who choose to participate will be randomly assigned to either a personalized screening schedule or an annual screening schedule. If a woman prefers to choose her own screening schedule, she can do so and decide to be in either the personalized or annual screening group. All enrollees are asked to commit to participate for the full, five-year duration of the study.
Women in the annual screening group will not receive genetic testing, but will get one mammogram a year, beginning at age 40.
Participants in both groups can have their screenings done locally at any of the facilities that participate in Horizon BCBSNJ’s network. There are no new or additional costs for members who choose to participate in the Study.
Participating members will be asked by the study to complete annual follow-up surveys in about changes in their breast health. Study participants will access their information through a secure, dedicated portal and the study complies with HIPAA privacy guidelines.
“Breast cancer is the second leading cancer-related cause of death in New Jersey and early detection is the key to successful treatment, yet the most recent data shows that 1 in 5 women age 50-74 living here did not have a mammogram.” said Thomas Graf, vice president and chief medical officer Horizon. “Improving breast cancer screening protocols can help us close that gap in care and focus on reaching women with a higher risk profile.”
Horizon BCBSNJ members between the ages of 40 and 74 years who have not had a mastectomy, breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) are eligible to participate. Interested members can learn more about the WISDOM Study and sign up to participate by visiting WisdomStudy.org.