Later Breast Cancer Diagnosis Among Women Who Miss Mammography

October 23, 2013

Women who miss regular mammography may be diagnosed with later stage breast cancer than women who undergo regular annual screenings.

Missed mammograms increase the risk of a later breast cancer diagnosis, according to a study in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Researchers from Marshfield Clinic Weston Center in Weston, Wis., and the University of Queensland in Australia undertook a retrospective study to identify patient characteristics associated with missed mammograms and associations between the missed screenings and later diagnosis of breast cancer. A total of 1,368 cases of primary breast cancer diagnosed from 2002 to 2008 were examined. Patients were a median age of 62.7 years.

Results showed that regardless of age, 1,428 women who underwent mammography were more likely to be diagnosed with stage 0 to II breast cancer than women who did not have a mammogram. In addition, “The number of mammographic examinations in the five years before diagnosis was inversely related to stage,” wrote the authors. Among the women who missed their last five annual screenings, 57.3 percent (94 out of 164) were diagnosed with late-stage cancers.

Women with a family history of breast cancer were most likely to undergo mammography, as were women who had had previous “medical encounters.” Distance from mammography centers also played a role in screening. The farther away women were from the centers, the odds of being screened dropped.

“Missing a mammogram, even in the year before a breast cancer diagnosis, increases the chance of a cancer diagnosis at a later stage,” the authors wrote.