Screening mammograms in younger women have low accuracy and detect few cancers

May 03, 2010

Screening mammograms in women under age 40 result in high rates of callbacks and additional imaging tests but low rates of cancer detection, according to a study published online May 3 in theJournal of the National Cancer Institute.

Many studies have assessed mammography in over age 40 years, but little is known about its usefulness in younger women. Although screening are not generally recommended under age 40, about 29% of women between 30 and 40 report having had one.

To determine the accuracy and outcomes of mammograms in younger women, Bonnie C. Yankaskas, Ph..D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues, pooled data from six mammography registries around the country. Their study included 117,738 women who had their first mammogram between the ages of 18 and 39. The researchers followed the women for a year to determine the accuracy of the tests and their rates. They analyzed data for both screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms, which were performed because a woman had a warning sign or symptom, such as a lump.

No cancers were detected in women 25. Among the 73,335 women aged 35-39, the researchers found that screening mammograms had poor accuracy (sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value) and high rates of recall for additional tests. The detection rate in this group was 1.6 cancers per 1,000 women.

For diagnostic mammograms, accuracy was better and the detection rate was 14.3 cancers per 1,000 women aged 35-39.

The authors conclude that in a theoretical population of 10,000 women having a screening mammogram between ages 35 and 39, 1,266 would be called back for further testing, 16 cancers would be detected, and therefore 1,250 women would have false positives.

In this population, they write, "our findings support a need for serious discussion about the appropriateness of mammography in women without the presence of symptoms."

In an editorial, Ned Calonge, M.D., of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, notes that this "landmark descriptive study should inform women and physicians and guide research efforts" on early detection in . He emphasizes that even women in the study with a family history of breast cancer had the same detection and false positive rates as women without a known family history. This calls into question he says, the recommendation of some health groups that women with a family history start screening early.

He concludes that "the study by Yankaskas et al. is a powerful reminder that we must continue to strive for better tests and better treatments…..Furthermore, we should not be satisfied with better detection rates alone. We need evidence that early detection of these cancers translates to improvements in important health outcomes."

Explore further: Britain to map 100,000 DNA code sequences

More information: Visit JNCI online at jnci.oxfordjournals.org

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Pepper and halt: Spicy chemical may inhibit gut tumors

2 hours ago

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that dietary capsaicin – the active ingredient in chili peppers – produces chronic activation of a receptor on cells lining ...

Expressive writing may help breast cancer survivors

3 hours ago

Writing down fears, emotions and the benefits of a cancer diagnosis may improve health outcomes for Asian-American breast cancer survivors, according to a study conducted by a researcher at the University of Houston (UH).

Taking the guesswork out of cancer therapy

9 hours ago

Researchers and doctors at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) have co-developed the first molecular test ...

Brain tumour cells found circulating in blood

10 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—German scientists have discovered rogue brain tumour cells in patient blood samples, challenging the idea that this type of cancer doesn't generally spread beyond the brain.

International charge on new radiation treatment for cancer

11 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Imagine a targeted radiation therapy for cancer that could pinpoint and blast away tumors more effectively than traditional methods, with fewer side effects and less damage to surrounding tissues and organs.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

singhavi
not rated yet May 04, 2010
The best way to fight Breast cancer is by early detection. Many Cancer Research centers across US have recommended that all women should regularly examine breast and if they find anything abnormal, should consult a doctor immediately. It is also recommended to go for breast checkup once every year.

The best way to fight cancer is by spreading cancer awareness. I have taken a small step from my side to do the same. My small initiative is :
www.cancery.com

pls do visit and leave your valuable suggestions, thoughts and comments to make it better.