News Release

December 2, 2004

Contact: Jane Shaskan, 860-679-4777

Woman at High Risk for Breast Cancer Focus of Study

UConn Health Center Participating in Nationwide Trial

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Women at high risk for breast cancer are the focus of a new research study designed to learn more about the cellular changes within the breast and how they may relate to long-term breast health.

The nationwide study, “Serial Evaluation of Ductal Epitheleium” or SEDE, is being conducted at the UConn Health Center by cancer specialist Scott Kurtzman, M.D., who, along with researchers from ten other sites across the country, will evaluate and monitor early cellular changes in the breast milk ducts of women at high-risk for breast cancer.

“For women already at an elevated lifetime risk for breast cancer, our goal is to help determine if the analysis of a woman’s breast duct cells can provide additional information about her near-term risk of developing breast cancer,” said Dr. Kurtzman. “This will add to the body of knowledge that we already have about this disease.”

To be eligible to participate in the study women must:

  • be between the ages of 35 and 65;
  • have a family history of breast cancer, or BRCA1or BRCA2 genetic mutations; and
  • have no personal history of breast cancer.

Participants in the study will undergo ductal lavage and a clinical breast exam every six months for three years, and a mammogram every 12 months. Participants’ breast health will be monitored for an additional two years. There is no cost to participants for the ductal lavage procedure and monitoring. Mammography, covered by most insurance programs, is considered routine health care and is the responsibility of the patient.

Ductal lavage begins with the application of an anesthetic cream to the nipple to numb the area. Next, a small suction cup is used to help draw tiny amounts of ductal fluid up to the nipple surface to determine the duct’s natural opening. A tiny plastic tube is then inserted into the opening and an anesthetic is delivered to numb the inside of the duct. The duct is then rinsed with a balanced electrolyte solution. Cells are collected and sent to a laboratory for analysis to determine if they are normal or atypical. The devices used in the ductal lavage procedure are approved by the FDA for obtaining breast duct cells.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer in women in the U.S. The National Cancer Institute estimates that about one in eight women will develop the disease. Women at high risk are invited to participate in the SEDE study. To see if you are eligible to participate in the study and for more information, contact Stephanie Simonich at the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at UConn Health Center, 860-679-4535.

IRB #05-005

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