How many times have I heard women say, “Can’t someone develop a blood test so we can just get rid of these awful mammograms?” Well, we’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting close. Mammogram screening is still the only effective method for detecting early breast cancer. However, mammograms often lead to further questions and, on occasion, biopsies that, more often than not, prove to be benign.
News! Provost Diagnostics has developed a blood test that can be used in conjunction with mammogram screening (and other diagnostic imaging studies, as needed) to ascertain whether an abnormality found on a screening mammogram is suspicious enough to warrant a biopsy.
The blood test is very helpful and highly accurate, but it’s not perfect. In women with both non-dense breasts and in women with very dense breasts, the blood test gives a negative result in 1% of cases that actually turn out to be cancer. Now, if you are a woman who’s been told that there is something “abnormal” about your screening mammogram, and are offered the Provista Diagnostic blood test as a means of deciding whether or not to proceed to biopsy, be aware that in 1% of cases, when the blood test comes back “negative” a cancer is actually present. This is not a high ‘failure’ rate. But each woman must decide if taking the chance of a missed breast cancer, and the delay in diagnosis that follows, is worth the risk.
Meanwhile, many women will be happy to have the added assurance provided in the majority of cases that a negative Provista Diagnostic blood test affords. Healthcare providers who wish to order the test may contact Provista Diagnostics to set up an account so that they can offer this blood test to their patients.
Reimbursement for the Provista Diagnostic blood test will depend on the individual insurance carrier. It’s wise to check with your insurance company first. Surprises that occur when the test is ordered and the patient discovers that her insurance company deems the test “experimental” (and, therefore, refuses to cover the cost of it) can be excruciatingly costly, as you can imagine.