Serena Murphy, MD, won the award for Outstanding Research Publication by a resident at the 2022 University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine's Excellence in Research Celebration. Dr. Murphy won for her paper on "Gradual adoption of needle biopsy for breast lesions in a rural state", which was completed under the mentorship of Michelle Sowden, DO, and Brian Sprague, PhD, using data from the VBCSS. Dr. Murphy finished her surgical residency at UVM in June is now doing a colorectal surgery fellowship the University of California, Irvine.
In a study of 504,427 women undergoing more than 1.3 screening
mammograms – the first study of this size and scope - the VBCSS teamed up with four other mammography registries across the country
in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium to show that the rate of late-stage breast cancer was reduced among women undergoing
breast cancer screening with digital breast tomosynthesis compared to those undergoing 2D digital
mammography. The findings were published in JAMA.
VBCSS investigators Donald Weaver and Brian Sprague partnered with other UVM Cancer Center Researchers and scientists and clinicians at the University of California-San Francisco,
the University of California-Davis, and the University of California-San Diego to develop a
multimodal breast pre-cancer atlas based on their characterization of the mutational, transcriptional, histological, and
micro-environment landscape of thirty-nine patient tumors.
The VBCSS contributed to a new risk prediction model that estimates a woman's 6-year risk of developing advanced breast cancer risk based on clinical risk factors and her frequency of mammography screening. The risk model was developed in a collaboration amongst Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium registries and can
be used to decide how often women should be screened and whether
supplemental imaging should be considered. The findings were published in Journal of the National Cancer Institute. iPhone and Android apps and a website-based app
are available to run the risk model calculation.
New research from the VBCSS in collaboration with the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) found that
from March to September 2020, breast biopsies and detected cancers at
U.S. BCSC facilities dropped sharply, compared with the same span a year
earlier. Biopsies declined by 23 percent and detected cancers by 24
percent – findings that the research team attributes mostly to the
postponement of routine screening mammograms as the COVID-19 pandemic
UVM medical student Mikaela Mohardt was named one of the recipients of the 2021 Summer Student Fellowships in Cancer Research from the University of Vermont Cancer Center. Her project will investigate collagen organization as a novel predictor of malignant potential in pre-invasive breast cancer, using data and specimens collected via the VBCSS. Congratulations Mikaela!
March 31, 2021
A new study published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute
looking at US mammography screening rates during the first 5
months of the pandemic found both a strong rebound in breast cancer
screening rates and a concerning cumulative deficit in mammograms due to
missed appointments, as well as uncovering disparities when looking at
screening according to race. The study included data from Vermont along
with data from 5 other breast imaging registries across in the country
in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium.
February 3, 2021
VBCSS Director Dr. Brian Sprague appeared on WCAX Channel 3 news to comment on a recent report
describing an accelerated decline in cancer mortality rates in the
United States. Dr. Sprague discussed the contributions of tobacco
control efforts and new screening and treatment advances, in addition to
ongoing challenges to cancer control in Vermont.
January 11, 2021
A new study from the VBCSS examines collagen organization in the breast tumor microenvironment in relation to long term outcomes after a pre-invasive breast cancer diagnosis. The study was a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instrumentation, which used multiphoton microscopy to characterize individual collagen fibers in human breast cancer specimens identified through the VBCSS. Using data on up to 15 years of follow-up, the investigators found that risk of disease progression was lower among cases with greater collagen fiber width and fiber density, whereas risk
was elevated among cases with higher fiber straightness. The results may have implications for precision medicine strategies for management of early stage breast cancer.
VBCSS receives National Cancer Institute funding to study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on breast cancer
August 6, 2020
The VBCSS received new funding from the National Cancer Institute to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of breast cancer screening and diagnostic imaging. These funds will support rapid analysis of detailed breast imaging and cancer detection data during the pandemic at participating BCSC registries and use CISNET breast cancer simulation models to project the long-term consequences of reduced screening utilization on breast cancer mortality.
March 30, 2020
Research findings, published in JAMA Network Open and led by VBCSS Director Brian Sprague, Ph.D., show that breast cancer screening with digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT, also known as 3D mammography) improves breast cancer screening performance among most radiologists. Compared with conventional 2D mammography, DBT on average has higher cancer detection rates and lower recall rates for additional imaging. The research team, a collaboration across the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC), looked at variation in DBT performance across radiologists, and found that while most radiologists reduced recall rates through its use, not all did.
VBCSS awarded grant to study screening ultrasound
March 1, 2020
The VBCSS has received a new R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute to evaluate the effectiveness of supplemental ultrasound screening for women with dense breasts. The five year grant is a collaboration among 10 institutions across the United States, led by VBCSS Director Brian Sprague, PhD, and co-Principal Investigator Natasha Stout at Harvard School of Public Health. The study plans to use clinical data on more than 100,000 screening ultrasound exams from the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) and two established computer simulation models from the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET).
June 1, 2019
A new study led by VBCSS Director Brian Sprague, PhD, was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute describing patterns in breast density assessment following recent changes in breast imaging practice. Using data from more than 3 million mammograms interpreted at 144 facilities participating in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium, it was found that patterns in breast density assessment were similar before and after the release of the new BI-RADS density classification guidelines, and were also similar on digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) exams compared to conventional digital mammography exams. Clinicians, researchers, and policymakers may reasonably expect stable density distributions across screened populations despite changes to the BI-RADS guidelines and implementation of DBT.
VBCSS student intern Sophie Mulrow awarded
April 16, 2019
Sophie Mulrow has been a work-study student with the VBCSS for all four years of her undergraduate studies at UVM. Today she was awarded second place in the 2018-2019 UVM Student Employee of the Year competition. She was recognized
for her valuable contributions to the development and testing of new patient matching programs that the VBCSS now uses to integrate data from multiple healthcare facilities across Vermont. Congratulations Sophie for being recognized
out of over 3000 UVM student employees!
October 30, 2018
VBCSS Director Dr. Brian Sprague received the Mid-Career Investigator Award at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine's "Dean's Excellence in Research" event. The award recognized the impact of Dr. Sprague's epidemiologic research
on our understanding of breast cancer risk and breast cancer screening. The event highlighted research being conducted by faculty, postdoctoral trainees, and graduate students within the college, with a Keynote Address given by Elaine
Ostrander, Ph.D., of the National Institutes of Health.
June 15, 2018
VBCSS investigator and UVMMC Director of Breast Imaging Dr. Sally Herschorn provided insights on digital breast tomosynthesis and breast ultrasound to Consumer Reports for their report on "What kind of breast cancer screening should you get?".
The report helps women make sense of the many options now available for breast cancer screening.
Department of Defense Patriot Award
April 4, 2018
The Office of Health Promotion Research received the Department of Defense Patriot Award to recognize its support of VBCSS staff member and Vermont Army Reserve National Guard combat medic Denis Nunez. VBCSS administrator Dawn Pelkey accepted
the award on behalf of the department. The award recognizes employers for their outstanding support and flexibility in employing service members who are frequently called to duty on short notice for critical missions in Vermont
and around the world. We thank Denis for his service to our country and his great work for the VBCSS!
VBCSS Awarded Grant to Study Digital Breast Tomosynthesis
December 15, 2017
The Vermont Breast Cancer Surveillance System has been awarded a grant from the National Cancer Institute to study a new technology in breast cancer screening. Digital breast tomosynthesis improves breast cancer screening performance when
added to conventional 2D digital mammography, though there are concerns regarding the extra radiation dose. In a multi-center study, including a collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania, we will evaluate the clinical performance
of a new approach in which digital breast tomosynthesis is used with synthetic 2D images instead of conventional 2D mammography.
October 20, 2017
Consumer Reports interviewed VBCSS investigators Dr. Brian Sprague and Dr. Sally Herschorn for a special report on what factors patients can consider when choosing a mammography facility for their breast cancer screening.
VBCSS Shares in $17 Million Grant to Improve Breast Cancer Screening and Surveillance
August 10, 2017
The Vermont Breast Cancer Surveillance System (VBCSS) will receive $1.8 million over 5 years as part of a $17 million grant to continue the work of the
Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC). This program project grant renewal from the National Cancer Institute will support new investigation of different breast cancer
screening and surveillance strategies using digital mammography, digital breast tomosynthesis (three-dimensional mammography), and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
May 16, 2017
The University of Vermont Department of Surgery held the 47th Annual Surgery Senior Major Scientific Program on May 4, 2017 to showcase the scholarly work of Larner College of Medicine students who will be specializing in surgery following
graduation. Jacqueline Wade ’17 received the second-place prize for her project using VBCSS data, titled “The Impact of Mammographic Screening on the Use of Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer in Women Ages 40-49.”
February 28, 2017
The shift from film to digital technology for diagnostic mammography appears to have improved cancer detection rates for diagnostic mammography, but also has increased the abnormal interpretation rate, which may lead to more women undergoing biopsies
for benign conditions, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology.
November 1, 2016
Dr. Vicki Hart received a Dean's Excellence in Research Trainee Award for Outstanding Research Publication/Postdoctoral Fellows at the inaugural Larner College of Medicine's "Dean’s Excellence in Research Awards" event held on November 1,
2016. Dean Morin and Associate Dean for Research Jensen presented Dr. Hart with the award for her paper titled "Trends in health related quality of life following a diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ", which was published earlier
this year in Journal of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Hart conducted the study as a postdoctoral researcher with the VBCSS.
August 22, 2016
One size doesn’t fit all women in clothing, and neither should all women have mammograms on the same schedule, a new national study concludes. A large computer modeling study led by Dr. Amy Trentham-Dietz of the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center found that the majority of women ages 50 to 74 can benefit if they have mammograms every two or three years. These women at average risk can retain most of the benefit of having mammograms less often and greatly reduce the chances of false
positive results and unneeded biopsies and overdiagnosis, the study concludes.
July 22, 2016
In May, Vermont became the 28th state to adopt legislation mandating reporting of breast density information to patients. New University of Vermont (UVM) research - published July 18, 2016 in the Annals of Internal Medicine - shows that density
assessment, as currently practiced, is subjective and highly variable across radiologists and warns of the implications of relying on the subjective measurement for clinical decision-making for breast cancer screening.
WCAX television segment
November 11, 2015
While better technology and screening practices have led to the detection of more breast cancers in women—many of which fall into a broad category of early-stage cancer, including ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS—researchers still
do not understand why some of these early cancers remain idle, while others progress. With the support of a new, $3.7 million federal grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University
of Vermont (UVM) Cancer Center will be looking to answer this question.
WCAX television segment
October 20, 2015
Premenopausal women, or women still experiencing menstruation, over age 40 may want annual mammograms to increase their chances of finding cancers earlier, suggests a new study that found a screening mammogram once every two years is safe for
postmenopausal women at average risk of breast cancer. The results are reported in the October 21, 2015 Online First edition of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Oncology.
March 17, 2015
The accuracy of pathologists’ diagnoses is an important and under-studied area. Now, a new study released this week in the March 17 issue of JAMA reports that pathologists interpreting breast biopsies have high levels of agreement
on the most serious of breast cancers – invasive – and lower levels of agreement for biopsy interpretations of ductal carcinoma in situ, commonly referred to as DCIS, and atypical hyperplasia, also referred to as “atypia.”
WCAX television segment
December 8, 2014
A new study released in the Annals of Internal Medicine and led by Brian Sprague, Ph.D., at the University of Vermont Cancer Center concludes that supplemental
ultrasound screening for women with dense breasts would substantially increase costs with little improvement in overall outcomes. The research provides needed evidence on the benefits and harms of breast cancer screening options for women
with dense breasts, and informs the discussion of national legislation that would mandate the disclosure of breast density information to women.
WCAX television segment