Clinical Trial

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 129, Issue 1, pp 99-106

Time for a re-evaluation of mammography in the young? Results of an audit of mammography in women younger than 40 in a resource restricted environment

  • Liezel TaylorAffiliated withMedial Faculty, Breast Clinic, University of Stellenbosch
  • , Sarinah BasroAffiliated withMedial Faculty, Breast Clinic, University of Stellenbosch
  • , Justus P. ApffelstaedtAffiliated withMedial Faculty, Breast Clinic, University of Stellenbosch Email author 
  • , Karin BaatjesAffiliated withMedial Faculty, Breast Clinic, University of Stellenbosch

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Mammography in younger women is considered to be of limited value. In a resource restricted environment without access to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and with a high incidence of breast cancer in the young, mammography remains an important diagnostic tool. Recent technical advances and better regulation of mammography make a reassessment of its value in these conditions necessary. Data of all the mammograms performed at a tertiary hospital and private breast clinic between January 2003 and July 2009 in women less than 40 years of age were collected. Indications were the presence of a mass, follow-up after primary cancer therapy, and screening for patients perceived at high risk due to a family history or the presence of atypical hyperplasia. Data acquired were as follows: Demographics, prior breast surgery, indication for mammography, outcome of mammography, diagnostic procedures, and their results. Of 2,167 mammograms, 393 were performed for a palpable mass, diagnostic mammography. In these, the overall cancer detection rate was 40%. If the mammography was reported as breast imaging reporting and data system (BIRADS®) 5 versus BIRADS® 3 and 4 versus BIRADS® 1 and 2, a final diagnosis of malignancy was established in 96, 48, and 5%, respectively. Of 367 mammograms done for the follow-up after primary treatment of breast cancer, seven cancers were diagnosed for a detection rate of 1.9%. Of 1,312 mammograms performed for screening, the recall rate was 4%; the biopsy rate 2%, and the cancer diagnosis rate 3/1,000 examinations. In contrast to past series, this series has shown that recent advances in mammography have made it a useful tool in the management of breast problems in young women, notably in a resource-restricted environment. Women for screening should be selected carefully.


Mammography Young women Resource restricted environments Ultrasound MRI