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20 Minutes Can Transform Cancer Care

Greta Fry is a natural-born helper. With the ability to spot a need and apply her talents and skills to help fulfill it, Greta shifted professional gears in her 40s from her first “helping” career as a teacher to become another type of “helper” – a licensed practical nurse.

Because she assists with clinical studies at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at her job every day, Greta felt comfortable signing up when she received a letter about participating in a clinical trial.

“I was due for my annual mammogram at Woman’s Hospital anyway, so when I saw that I could contribute to breast cancer research while being screened at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion, it just made sense to participate,” said Greta.

What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials help determine best practices for detecting, treating and even preventing cancer.

“Research is key to the future of cancer care,” explains Cyndi Knox, director of clinical research at the Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. “Clinical research participants receive a standard of care treatment – the treatment they would receive otherwise – but they also may have the opportunity to benefit from an added study intervention or medication that could enhance outcomes.”

With more than 40 clinical trials available to participate in at any given time, the Cancer Center and Woman’s clinical research teams are some of the only in the area that are part of a statewide collaborative through the National Cancer Institute. The group, including LSU Health Sciences Center – New Orleans and LSU Health Sciences Center – Shreveport, reaches about 80 percent of Louisiana residents, particularly minority populations, providing patients access to high-quality research studies closer to home.

What trial did Greta participate in?
The clinical trial that Greta participated in is referred to as TMIST (Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial), comparing two FDA-approved types of mammograms: tomosynthesis (3D) and digital mammography (2D). The trial will collect data on all mammograms and their results, along with important demographic information. To help us better understand the biology of breast cancer, participants may voluntarily contribute blood samples and genetic material to build a biorepository to help women in the future. The TMIST trial is one of many research opportunities available through the partnership between Woman’s Hospital and Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.

“My daughters and I saw a family member grieve the heartbreaking loss of her sister to breast cancer,” said Greta. “So it was a no-brainer to be part of something that could make life easier for future breast cancer patients.”

Is a clinical trial right for you?
Helping make cancer care better by advancing research is not limited to natural-born helpers like Greta.

“I think some people associate ‘research’ or ‘clinical trial’ with being a guinea pig,” says Greta. “But it’s really no big deal – it just added a little time to my regularly scheduled mammogram. I would encourage anyone to contribute to research opportunities if they can. Why wouldn’t we help those who will come after us? Twenty minutes is hardly a sacrifice when it comes to making life better for my children and grandchildren.”

How to participate in TMIST
The TMIST trial is for healthy women ages 45 to 75 who are already planning to get routine mammograms. If you are interested in participating, please visit BreastandGYNCancer.org, call (225) 215-1353, sign up at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion at Woman’s, or register by scheduling a mammogram on the Woman’s Mammography coach at community breast cancer screenings.