Time to diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer: results from the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, 1991-1995

Am J Public Health. 2000 Jan;90(1):130-4. doi: 10.2105/ajph.90.1.130.


Objectives: This study examined times to diagnosis and treatment for medically underserved women screened for breast cancer.

Methods: Intervals from first positive screening test to diagnosis to initiation of treatment were determined for 1659 women 40 years and older diagnosed with breast cancer.

Results: Women with abnormal mammograms had shorter diagnostic intervals than women with abnormal clinical breast examinations and normal mammograms. Women with self-reported breast symptoms had shorter diagnostic intervals than asymptomatic women. Diagnostic intervals were less than 60 days in 78% of cases. Treatment intervals were generally 2 weeks or less.

Conclusions: Most women diagnosed with breast cancer were followed up in a timely manner after screening. Further investigation is needed to identify and then address factors associated with longer diagnostic and treatment intervals to maximize the benefits of early detection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology