Publication Abstract

Authors: Rosen EL, Sickles E, Keating D

Title: Ability of mammography to reveal nonpalpable breast cancer in women with palpable breast masses.

Journal: AJR Am J Roentgenol 172(2):309-12

Date: 1999 Feb

Abstract: OBJECTIVE: Our goal was to determine the frequency with which mammography reveals nonpalpable malignancies in women with benign palpable masses and to compare these nonpalpable malignancies with the palpable malignancies and nonpalpable malignancies detected in asymptomatic women. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: This study of nominally asymptomatic women involved 85,399 consecutive mammographic examinations, of which 3459 (4.1%) examinations were performed on women who had palpable masses identified before or at the time of mammography. A medical outcomes audit identified mammographic examinations after which breast cancer was diagnosed and determined selected surrogate measures for mortality reduction for the mammographically detected malignancies. RESULTS: Of the 3459 examinations in women with palpable masses, 64 cases of cancer were revealed by mammography. Of these, 54 cases involved palpable malignancies (15.6/1000 examinations) and 10 involved nonpalpable malignancies (2.6/1000 examinations). Of the 81,940 examinations in asymptomatic women, 346 cases of nonpalpable cancer were detected (4.2/1000 examinations). Of the 10 cases of nonpalpable cancer detected in women with benign palpable masses, median tumor size was 13.8 mm, 10% had axillary node metastasis, and 10% were stage 2 or higher. The corresponding surrogate measures for cases of nonpalpable cancer detected in asymptomatic women were median tumor size, 13.6 mm; node metastasis, 7%; stage 2 or higher, 14%. The surrogate measures for the 54 palpable malignancies were median tumor size, 23.7 mm; node metastasis, 31%; stage 2 or higher, 63%. CONCLUSION: The surrogate measures for the nonpalpable malignancies in women with benign palpable lesions resemble those in asymptomatic women and are much more favorable than those of palpable malignancies. Therefore, in women with a palpable breast mass, it is important to use mammography to screen the remainder of both breasts for nonpalpable cancer.