Clinical trial underway on Eastside to develop blood test that could improve breast cancer detection

VIDEO: Clinical trial underway that could lead to breakthrough in breast cancer detection

BELLEVUE, Wash. — A clinical trial is underway on the east side that could lead to a major breakthrough in breast cancer detection.

Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue is the only hospital in the Pacific Northwest taking part in this nationwide long-term research.

The clinical trial will involve about 200 patients in Western Washington and about 2,000 from across the country.

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The goal is to create a blood test that could help doctors better assess a patient’s risk for breast cancer after an abnormal mammogram.

This could help reduce or eliminate the need for more invasive biopsies especially when patients' breast imaging results come back as false positives.

KIRO 7 spoke with Dr. Kathryn Greenberg, a breast imaging specialist, at Overlake Medical Center about why this research is so important.

“The hope with this trial is that we will have more information that will shorten the time and increase confidence when it comes to doing procedures,” said Greenberg. “In general, three quarters of biopsies that are done are non-cancerous or benign, but why don’t we try to improve that and that is what the research is trying to do.”

Among the patients taking part is 35-year-old Gauri Patil. She’s a wife and mother who discovered a lump on her breast about 6 months ago. Her biopsy turned out to be benign but she said the wait to get the final results was nerve-wracking.

“Me and my husband, we couldn’t sleep over the weekend,” said Patil. “I said, 'Oh my God, what if it’s cancer? What do I tell my daughter?' That was my biggest worry.”

Researchers said the new blood test can also help cut down on both the unnecessary stress and medical expenses for patients.

But a breakthrough could still be years or even decades away.

“I hope the next generation, my children or my patient’s children, will benefit from this. But it’s hard to say if this generation would,” said Dr. Greenberg.

This phase of the clinical trial is set to be completed in about 18 months.