Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies Seek to Personalize Breast Cancer Screening through the WISDOM Study

CHICAGO, May 2, 2018 — Today the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) announced a significant step towards personalized health care that could eventually impact every U.S. family. Through the support of participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies, the expansion of the WISDOM (Women Informed to Screen Depending on Measures of Risk) Study will help determine whether U.S. women would benefit from a personalized approach to breast cancer screening.

In collaboration with the Athena Breast Network, researchers will engage up to 100,000 women and their doctors across the country. The goal of the trial is to assess a tailored approach to breast cancer screening that could significantly reduce harm and improve benefits. In addition, the study will evaluate the willingness of women to select a more personalized approach. 

“It is time to test a new approach to breast cancer screening that harnesses what we have learned over the last two decades,” said Dr. Laura Esserman, director of UCSF Franc Buck Breast Cancer Center at the University of California San Francisco. “Breast cancer is not one disease, and all women are not at risk for the same kind of cancer. We can tailor the amount of screening to what people need.”

“The WISDOM research initiative reinforces the BCBS Systemwide commitment to advancing patient care through precision medicine,” said Dr. Trent Haywood, chief medical officer for BCBSA. “This important research will inform the future of breast cancer screening for generations to come by transitioning from a generalized approach to a tailored approach for the unique needs of women and their families.” 

The following BCBS companies will be participating in the pilot:
–       Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
–       Blue Cross of Idaho
–       Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
–       Blue Shield of California
–       Health Care Service Corporation
–       Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
–       Regence BlueCross and BlueShield  

Participating BCBS companies in the WISDOM study will cover the costs of screening and genomic profiling for select members that qualify to take part in the study.

Many clinics recommend annual screenings after age 40 to ensure early breast cancer is detected. However, this standard commonly leads to over-screening, a high rate of false positives and unnecessary breast biopsies. To determine a woman’s individual risk factors, researchers and doctors will study genomic profiles and answers to a common questionnaire tracking family history, comorbidities and other key indicators. With this precise information, doctors and other health professionals can identify low-risk women and recommend biennial mammograms or no screening at all until age 50. For women with a high risk factor, an annual mammogram will be supplemented with an MRI exam.

For more information about the WISDOM study, visit

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Index. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out our blog.

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