Tech limitations promote tumor growth perception

September 13, 2010
Diagnostic Imaging, Diagnostic Imaging Vol 32 No 9, Volume 32, Issue 9

Technological limitations, not biology, could be the cause of perceived high rates of breast tumor growth in younger women.

Technological limitations, not biology, could be the cause of perceived high rates of breast tumor growth in younger women. Previously, poor mammography screening outcomes for women aged 40 to 49 were pinned on faster tumor growth and reduced tumor detectability, but a new study shows the latter is the major culprit.

A breast cancer screening computer simulation model was developed for the study to estimate how biology and technology affect mammography sensitivity. The researchers calibrated the predicted breast cancer incidence rates to the actual rates from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database. They compared distributions of screen-detected tumor sizes to the actual distributions obtained from the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium to estimate relative impact of lower tumor detectability and tumor volume doubling time on the younger women's screening outcomes.

The lowered ability to detect tumors accounted for 79% of the poorer sensitivity in the model, according to the research, which was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The remaining 21% was due to faster tumor growth (doi:10.1093/jnci/djq271).