Should men get mammograms?
A new study suggests selective mammography screening for men at high-risk for the disease can result in earlier detection—and more lives saved. The research was published in Radiology.
Mammography has proved itself to be a valuable tool in detecting breast cancer in women. As incidence rates of breast cancer in males is rising, researchers from New York University Langone Medical Center, New York University School of Medicine, and New York University’s Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research wondered if it would be as effective in identifying breast cancer in males as well. To date, there are no formal screening guidelines or recommendations for men, even those who have a family history of the disease or specific genetic mutations that put them at higher risk.
In a retrospective study, the researchers reviewed male breast imaging studies, as well as the disease outcomes, in nearly 2000 men, between the ages of 18 and 96 years, with a personal or family history of breast cancer or associated genetic mutations. That review revealed that mammography helped to detect 2,304 breast lesions in those patients. Of those, only 149 were biopsied, but 27.5% were shown to be malignant. Mammography screening yielded a cancer detection rate of approximately 18 per 1000 examinations. This is in stark contrast to women, where the average detection rate stands at approximately 3-5 cases per 1000 examinations in average risk women. Furthermore, mammography screening in men led to earlier detection of cancer, before the disease had spread, improving the chance of survival.
In addition, the researchers found the following:
- A mammographic screening sensitivity of 100% (95% CI: 50%, 100%);
- A mammographic screening specificity of 95% (95% CI: 93.1%, 98%);
- And a mammographic screening positive predictive value of biopsy at 50% (95% CI: 22.2%, 77.8%).
Taken together, the researchers concluded that there may well be benefit in screening men who meet high-risk criteria for developing breast cancer—and that more research should be undertaken to develop specific recommendations for doing so.