Interval Breast Cancer More Aggressive Than Mammogram Detected Tumors

Dr Jingmei Li Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Interview with:
Dr Jingmei Li
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Some cancers, such as interval breast cancers, which are detected within two years of a negative mammogram, are associated with more aggressive tumour characteristics and worse prognosis. As women with interval cancers were twice as likely to have a personal of family history of breast cancer, it is likely that there exist inherited variants that predispose a woman to the more aggressive form of the disease. Our study is one of the first to show empirical evidence that screen-detected and interval cancers are different genetically and are two distinct subtypes.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: When aggressive breast cancers get diagnosed, it may be too advanced for effective treatment. Germline genetic markers can be used to overcome this situation because they do not measure a tumour-derived product and can be informative years before cancer develops. In addition, such a discovery is important for women who might develop interval cancer in the future, as mammography screening does not benefit them.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Although we have shown that screen-detected and interval cancers are different, we haven’t identified any specific genetic variant that can discriminate between them. The next step will be to identify genetic variants which can discriminate between screen-detected and interval cancers.


Li, J. Holm, J. Bergh, M. Eriksson, H. Darabi, L. S. Lindström, S. Törnberg, P. Hall, and K. Czene

Breast cancer genetic risk profile is differentially associated with interval and screen-detected breast cancers Ann Oncol first published online December 8, 2014 doi:10.1093/annonc/mdu565

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Last Updated on January 26, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD