STRIVE to Save Lives

A mammogram is an important screening tool for breast cancer. Unfortunately for some women, some early cancers can be missed by current screening methods and are only detected once symptoms occur. The STRIVE Study is now underway at Mayo Clinic in an effort to change all that—and develop a new test to give cancer patients the timely diagnoses they need. 

Research for a Cure 

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2017, and about 40,610 women will die from it this year. The earlier breast cancer is found, the higher the chance of a cure. The blood test being evaluated in STRIVE, a study by the company GRAIL, uses high-intensity DNA sequencing to analyze blood samples for genetic material released by tumors—and find breast cancer early.  

“The primary goal of the STRIVE Study is to determine whether a blood test can effectively facilitate the early detection of clinically relevant cancers that may have been missed by conventional screening methods, including mammography,” says Minetta Liu, M.D., of Mayo Clinic, who serves as research chair in the Division of Medical Oncology and associate professor, Department of Oncology and Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. Dr. Liu, along with Celine Vachon, Ph.D., and Fergus Couch, Ph.D., is a principal investigator who contributed to the study’s design and oversees the conduct of STRIVE at all participating Mayo Clinic sites.

“The test would be used in conjunction with mammography to improve early detection efforts for breast cancer,” explains Dr. Vachon, Mayo Clinic professor of Epidemiology, Division of Epidemiology, in the Department of Health Sciences Research. “One goal of STRIVE is to inform where the test could best be used in the clinical setting—which could be in routine breast screening or at the time of an abnormal finding on a mammogram.” 

Participant Enrollment

“Recruitment to STRIVE began in April 2017. Mayo Clinic will enroll a total of 40,000 women at its campuses in Minnesota, Florida and Arizona and at Mayo Clinic Health System sites in La Crosse and Onalaska, Wisconsin,” says Dr. Liu. “Our current target for the completion of accrual is the end of July 2018.”

You could be asked to participate. The study is currently open to those who are scheduled for a screening mammogram at the participating sites. Invited patients should allow approximately 30 minutes to complete the process:


  • Read and sign a consent document.
  • Complete a questionnaire.
  • Provide a blood sample.


Early, Individualized Treatment—and Hope

“Participation in STRIVE represents a larger effort. Mayo Clinic places a high priority on being a leader in the development of blood tests to facilitate the detection, monitoring and treatment of breast and other cancers,” says Dr. Liu. 

“A new test that can improve the ability of mammograms to detect early cancers and/or can reduce the number of patients who need further evaluation, due to unclear findings on mammograms, should be of great benefit to many patients,” says Dr. Couch, the Zbigniew and Anna M. Scheller Professor of Medical Research and chair of the Division of Experimental Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. 

This study would not be possible without the thousands of volunteer participants and an enthusiastic research group. “We also have an incredible team of radiologists, statisticians, managers and coordinators who have all contributed to the STRIVE efforts at Mayo Clinic,” said Dr. Vachon. 

“The goal of medicine is to tailor tests and treatments to patients as individuals instead of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach,” she continues. “The development and validation of a blood test for early cancer detection will allow for more individualized screening and treatment strategies.” 

STRIVE offers the possibility of a new test to detect breast cancer—and more personalized health care. Moreover, it provides more HOPE for patients with an early diagnosis of cancer. 

For more information, contact a Mayo Clinic study coordinator at

Trish Amundson is a Rochester-area freelance writer. She dedicates this story to breast cancer awareness and those affected by breast cancer.