News release from Dearborn County Hospital
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - Dearborn County Hospital is reminding women not to delay in registering to take part in the nation’s first and only screening breast MRI clinical trial. The purpose of this scientific research study is to determine if screening breast MRI is more accurate than screening mammography for the early detection of breast cancer.
A little more than a year ago, Dearborn County Hospital began accepting participants for the study. To date, more than 500 women have taken part in the clinical trial. The hospital plans to screen a minimum of 1,000 women before the study ends in June of 2011. Participants in the study have come from at least four states, including individuals from Dayton and Northern Ohio; Lexington, Kentucky; and the Huntington/Charleston area of West Virginia.
“We are encouraging all women to call if they meet the study guidelines and are interested in participating in the clinical trial,” emphasized Roger Howard, DCH Director of Clinical Services and Facilities. “This is a tremendous opportunity for appropriate women to take part in a significant research project while obtaining a screening breast MRI at no charge.
“When word of the study was first released, we were inundated with calls and not everyone could be scheduled. Now, we are encouraging those individuals to try again as well as welcoming new inquiries. Also, women who participated in the study last year are invited to take part for a second time providing they still meet the study guidelines.”
Women who are asymptomatic, meet the study guidelines (please see below) and have had a recent normal screening mammogram are invited to participate in the clinical trial. Women must take part in the trial within a three month period following their screening mammogram. Those agreeing to take part are then scheduled for a screening breast MRI at DCH using the most advanced technology, the General Electric Signa Vibrant 1.5T magnet with Vangard breast imaging table featuring variable coil geometry for optimal positioning of the patient. The entire process takes less than two hours with only about 30 minutes of actual scan time.
Upon arrival, the participant’s blood is checked to make sure that it falls within the study’s parameters for use of a contrast agent. Providing the blood work is within the range set forth by the study, the actual scan is begun. Approximately halfway through the examination, a single injection of a contrast agent is given in a vein in the participant’s arm. Those taking part in the study should not experience any discomfort or be exposed to any risks above and beyond those normally associated with the drawing of blood, the administration of contrast agents and/or an MRI procedure. MRI does not utilize X-rays to obtain images.
Following the scan, the images are sent to the Breast MRI Institute of Flint, Michigan, where Dr. David Strahle, the principal investigator, along with his specially trained staff of Radiologists interpret the breast MRI. A comparison of the MRI is then made to the mammogram to determine if the breast MRI detected an abnormality not seen on the mammogram. A complete report is forwarded to the participant and her personal physician. Because she is taking part in research, the screening MRI and Radiologist’s interpretation are provided free of charge; along with the accompanying blood work, provided it is done at DCH.
“In 2009, approximately 4,750 women had mammograms at one of our three DCH mammography sites,” explained Mr. Howard. “Considering the large number of mammography sites across the country, the results of this study could have implications for thousands of women each year. Whether used alone as the primary screening tool or in association with mammography, we believe that our study will further document the need for breast MRI to not only be accessible to women but also covered by most, if not all insurance plans.
“Implementing the study was a major undertaking and we are grateful for our community partners and clinical colleagues who have made this trial possible. We greatly appreciate Mayor William Cunningham and the Lawrenceburg City Council and Administration for their donation of $750,000 and to the Dearborn Community Foundation, Inc., City of Lawrenceburg Community Grant Program for their award of $100,000. These grants coupled with available hospital funds allowed DCH to purchase the equipment for the study at a cost of $1.125 million. Additional funding was provided by the Dearborn County Hospital Auxiliary and Dearborn County Hospital Foundation, which donated $100,000 and $25,000 respectively, as well as the United Way which donated $5,000 and the Ohio County Community Foundation which contributed $3,000.
“In addition, the Radiologists from the Breast MRI Institute are interpreting the images for less than half of their usual charge. Donations from the above sources are being used to help offset the balance of these fees,” said Mr. Howard. “The hospital is paying for equipment maintenance and fixed and miscellaneous expenses pertaining to the screenings and study, however, it will not receive any financial compensation.”
The screening breast MRI clinical study is open to all qualified women by appointment without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion or ability to pay. Individuals will not be financially compensated for their participation. For more information on the study or if you would like to schedule a time to participate, please call or have your physician call Dearborn County Hospital Radiology Scheduling at (812) 532-2611 or (800) 676-5572, ext. 2611. A physician’s referral is not required for participation.