One-year mammography follow-up falls short

July 1, 2008

Women with diagnostic mammograms flagged as probably benign usually undergo short-interval follow-up. But at 12 months, this second look may not boost cancer detection.

Women with diagnostic mammograms flagged as probably benign usually undergo short-interval follow-up. But at 12 months, this second look may not boost cancer detection.

Erin Aiello Bowles, a research associate at the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle, and colleagues at several U.S. institutions evaluated the accuracy of short-interval follow-up using data from the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium.

Their data set included 45,007 mostly asymptomatic women aged 40 to 59 who underwent short-interval follow-up between 1994 and 2004. The investigators found that the sensitivity of mammography to detect cancer declined from 83.3% at six months to 60.5% at 12 months. They speculate that cancers assessed as probably benign (BI-RADS category 3) may not grow as rapidly as lesions that appear more suspicious for malignancy and could, therefore, mislead radiologists. They published their findings in the May American Journal of Roentgenology.