UNC Lineberger Physician Co-Author of Study of Screening Mammography in Women with Personal History of Breast Cancer

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Hy Muss, MD, professor of medicine and leader of the UNC Lineberger Geriatric Oncology Program, was co-author of a paper reporting results of a mammography study of women with a personal history of breast cancer.

The study, the results of which were published in the February 23, 2011 Journal of the American Medical Association Icon indicating that a link will open an external site., showed that mammography screening in women with a personal history of breast cancer detects early-stage second breast cancers, but has lower accuracy, compared to screening in women without prior breast cancer.  Even though mammography was not quite as accurate in women with a prior history of breast cancer as in women without breast cancer, mammography still detected most cancers in women with prior cancers and remains the mainstay of breast cancer imaging for these women.

Scientists at the University of Sydney, Australia, and the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium and Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, Washington conducted the study. Although women with a personal history of breast cancer are at higher risk of developing another breast cancer than women who have not had breast cancer, and are recommended for screening mammography, little high-quality data exist on screening performance in these women.

Subjects included women receiving mammograms at  facilities in five registries of the National Cancer Institute-funded Breast Cancer Screening Program, which collects demographic and mammography information from women undergoing mammography at participating community-based facilities.

Scientists compared the 58,870 screening mammograms in 19,078 women with a history of early-stage breast cancer, and 58,870 matched (breast density, age group, mammography year and registry) screening examinations in 55,315 women without a personal history of breast cancer.

Screening outcomes and breast cancer rates in women with a personal history of breast cancer are associated with various factors, including the treatment received for the first cancer, so these women have various underlying risks for a second breast cancer, and a more tailored screening strategy than currently recommended might be warranted. The study suggests that further imaging research is needed for women with a prior breast cancer especially those younger than 50 years of age, those with extremely dense breasts, or those who received breast conservation without radiotherapy for their first cancer.