About the Study

The Mayo Mammography Health Study at Mayo Clinic is a breast cancer research study whose goal is to identify features on mammograms to help detect women at high risk of breast cancer. Findings from the mammography study could ultimately help lead to new methods for prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

Researchers in the Mayo Mammography Health Study:

  • Review mammogram images to find clues that will help clarify a woman's future risk of breast cancer
  • Study how certain treatments, such as hormone therapy, may cause changes seen on a mammogram, which could be important for determining how beneficial a treatment will be over the long term

Through this study, Mayo Clinic researchers are learning more about early detection of breast cancer, breast cancer risk and response to treatment.

Gathering the mammography data

To accomplish their objectives, researchers in the Mayo Mammography Health Study are studying the records of more than 25,000 women who agreed to participate in the breast cancer study. Participants enrolled in the mammography study after having a screening mammogram at Mayo Clinic between 2003 and 2006.

The Mayo Mammography Health Study collected questionnaires, mammograms, blood samples and clinical results from the participants. Researchers continue to perform ongoing follow-up of these women to collect any new cancer information.

Putting the mammography data to work

Enrolling this large group of women and following them over time to track any development of cancer helps researchers identify risk factors associated with breast cancer and learn more about early detection of breast cancer, breast cancer prevention and the effectiveness of breast cancer treatments.

A unique aspect of the Mayo Mammography Health Study is that information about possible risk factors is collected before women develop breast cancer. This allows researchers to find markers on the mammogram or in the blood that will be important to women years before they might develop cancer.

Doctors and researchers may use information from the mammography study at Mayo Clinic to:

  • Identify the risk level of patients years before they might develop cancer, which could allow women to make changes to reduce their risks
  • Facilitate decisions about the frequency and type of future breast cancer screening strategies

About Dr. Vachon

The Mayo Mammography Health Study is directed by Celine M. Vachon, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. Vachon focuses on two main areas of research:

  • The genetics and epidemiology of mammographic density and their utility as risk factors for and surrogate markers of breast cancer risk and recurrence
  • The genetic epidemiology of multiple myeloma, its precursor — monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) — and other hematologic malignancies