Prognosis, treatment, and recurrence of breast cancer for women attending or not attending the Screening Mammography Program of British Columbia

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1999 Mar;54(1):73-81. doi: 10.1023/a:1006152918283.


Breast cancer screening programs have been initiated in many countries in the past decade. To determine the impact of the Screening Mammography Program of British Columbia (SMPBC), disease and treatment outcomes for women with breast cancer diagnosed in BC between 1989 and 1996 were compared on the basis of attendance at the SMPBC. An SMPBC attender was a women diagnosed with breast cancer within three years of an SMPBC screen, regardless whether the cancer was detected as a result of that screen. Of the 13,636 women aged 40-89 years diagnosed with breast cancer in BC during the study period, 2,647 (19.4%) were SMPBC attenders. 73.5% of SMPBC attenders (N = 1,946) and 74.2% of non-attenders (N = 8,149) were referred to the BC Cancer Agency and had pathology, staging, treatment, and outcome information available. SMPBC attenders compared with non-attenders were more likely to have in situ disease alone, and those with invasive cancers had smaller tumors which were less likely to have grade III histology and less likely to have spread to axillary lymph nodes (all P < 0.001). SMPBC attenders were more likely to be treated with breast conservation and less likely to receive adjuvant chemotherapy or tamoxifen (P < 0.001). Log-rank tests showed local (P = 0.017), distant (P < 0.001), and overall (P < 0.001) disease-free survival were better for SMPBC attenders. These favorable surrogate endpoints suggest that the benefits of breast screening as demonstrated by randomized trials can be translated into community practice by an organized breast screening program.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence