What’s the Prognosis If You Get Breast Cancer After a Negative Mammogram?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Anne Marie McCarthy, PhD Department of Medicine Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School Boston

Dr. McCarthy

Anne Marie McCarthy, PhD
Department of Medicine
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Mammography is effective in reducing breast cancer mortality. However, it is not perfect, and approximately 15% of breast cancers are diagnosed despite a negative mammogram before the next recommended screening.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Using data from the NCI funded PROSPR (Population-Based Research Optimizing Screening through Personalized Regimens) Consortium, we determined the rates of cancer diagnosis within one year following a negative or positive screening mammogram. The rate of cancer diagnosis within one year of a negative mammogram was small (5.9 per 10,000 screenings), but those cancers were more likely to have poor prognosis than cancers diagnosed after a positive mammogram (43.8% vs. 26.9%). As expected, women with dense breasts were more likely to have cancer diagnosed within 1 year of a negative mammogram. However, breast density was not a good predictor of poor prognosis among women diagnosed with cancer after a negative mammogram. Younger women were more likely to be diagnosed with poor prognosis breast cancer after a negative screening mammogram.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Mammography is an effective tool for breast cancer early detection, but it is imperfect. Breast density is an important predictor of breast cancer diagnosis despite having a negative mammogram, however other factors such as age may be more important in determining who will develop poor prognosis breast cancer, and should be taken into account in decisions about supplemental screening with breast ultrasound or breast MRI.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Future research should aim to identify additional risk factors for diagnosis of poor prognosis breast cancer despite regular mammography screening, beyond breast density alone. 

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


McCarthy AM, Barlow WE, Conant EF, et al. Breast Cancer With a Poor Prognosis Diagnosed After Screening Mammography With Negative Results. JAMA Oncol. Published online May 03, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.0352

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.


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Last Updated on May 3, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD