Buddy Check 7: Nearly a dozen clinical trials pave way to better breast cancer care

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 9:18 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2021 at 9:19 AM CST
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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - Marshfield Clinic’s Cancer Care and Research Center is staying busy with nearly a dozen clinical trials for breast cancer patients-- from those that evaluate radiation therapy before and after surgery, to a handful that look into which current standard of care has the best outcomes. All are meant to address several aspects of a patient’s cancer journey.

“All the way from diagnosis to follow-ups, so it’s not necessarily just the chemotherapy or radiation,” explained Stephanie Engelien, the oncology research nurse supervisor at Marshfield Clinic’s Cancer Care and Research Center. Two of them are testing web-based tools that help with the decision-making process, including connecting patients with emotional support and financial planning resources.

“As we know, all of those things are, they’re a big part especially of a new diagnosis of breast cancer,” Engelien added. Another trial tests a vaccine for patients with triple-negative breast cancer - which is more difficult to treat. “The more positive hormone receptors you have, the more options for treating, so when they’re all negative, there’s nothing we can target from hormone treatment,” Engelien explained.

“This vaccine is being tested to see if it can help keep that breast cancer from recurring.” Another study takes into account the technology that’s ever-changing, specifically when it comes to mammograms. The standard has always been a 2D mammogram. “The 3D allows a little bit of a different look,” Engelien said. “It’s a little more in depth, especially with women who have dense breasts, there’s a lot of women that have a lot of cysts, you can have fatty cysts-- that’s a very normal part of breast tissue-- but it can be hard to differentiate those on a 2D mammogram.”

This trial, which includes thousands of women across the country, is looking at which type of mammogram is best with early detection.

“Because of course we know that the earlier you detect breast cancer, the more treatable it is, so I think that’s going to give us some great information and that certainly is going to affect the way we screen for breast cancer in the future.”

To learn more about oncology clinical trials, visit or call the Cancer Care and Research Center: 1-800-782-8581, ext. 1-6119

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