Breast screening in symptomatic women over 35 years of age: improvements in service efficiency
The rationalization of cancer services in Ireland saw all women with symptomatic breast problems referred to one of the eight regional cancer centers. A pilot triaging system was introduced in St Vincent’s University Hospital to streamline these services. Women over 35 years who do not meet urgent referral criteria are referred for a mammogram prior to a clinic appointment (“image first”). The aim of this study was to retrospectively determine the recall rates, biopsy rates, and rate of breast cancer identification within this cohort of patients. This was compared to a screening population of patients.
Patients triaged into the “image first” group within a one-year period were identified. Results of the initial mammogram, further imaging and subsequent biopsies were recorded. Data relating to number of recalls, number of patients biopsied and number of cancers identified within the Merrion Unit of the National Breastcheck Screening Program was obtained for comparison.
One thousand six hundred eighty-eight referrals were triaged as “image first” over this period. 185 (11%) of patients required a biopsy of an identified lesion. Breast cancer was diagnosed in 65 patients (3.9%). During the same study period, of the 42,099 women who were screened for breast cancer, 496 (1.8%) underwent biopsy and 267 (0.63%) were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Image first patients, who represent a cohort of “symptomatic” non-urgent women, have a greater rate of breast cancer detection than an asymptomatic screening population. This may have an impact on the appropriate triaging of symptomatic women in a national cancer center.
KeywordsBreast cancer Mammography Screening Symptomatic
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