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One in eight Canadian women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime and one in thirty-four will die from it, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. As with any cancer, early detection is key to better outcomes. 

The mammogram has been the most common screening tool for breast cancer since the 1960s. However, forty-five per cent of women have dense breast tissue, making it more difficult to evaluate mammogram results. Dense breast tissue is also linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. In addition, many women will not begin regular screening until after they turn 50, which gives tumours more time to grow before detection. 

Recognizing these limitations, a group of researchers at the University of Calgary, led by Bob Shepherd, Co-Founder and President at Syantra, and Dr. Tina Rinker, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer at Syantra, began developing a new screening tool for detecting breast cancer. The team developed the Syantra DX | Breast Cancer test, which is a blood test that measures a panel of gene expression biomarkers and then uses machine learning software to interpret the data. In 2021, Syantra Inc. received accreditation from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) for the Syantra DX | Breast Cancer screening blood test, making it available to the public.  

Calian has partnered with Syantra to bring this new screening tool to women in more than 100 cities across Canada. “Through our mobile nursing network and Calian® Nexi™ digital platform, we’re removing access barriers for women to this breakthrough screener,” says Kaytlin Sadler, Vice President of Patient Solutions at Calian.”  Recognizing the test’s retail price of $499 can be a barrier to access, Calian also connects patients with available funding options through the Syantra Patient Support Program. 

Clinical studies demonstrated an accuracy rate of 92.2 per cent for women between 25 and 80, and 98.5 per cent for women under 50. This compares favourably with accuracy rates for mammograms, which correctly identify about 87 per cent of breast cancer overall, with higher accuracy for women over 50. 

“Our blood test provides a new tool for women to use in taking charge of their breast health,” states Dr. Rinker. “Our mission is to make early detection part of routine healthcare and our partnership with Calian brings us a big step forward in Canada to impacting the way cancer is detected here and around the world.”