Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy and value of breast ultrasound for primary imaging evaluation of women 30-39 years of age who present with focal breast signs or symptoms.
Methods: We identified all women 30-39 years of age who underwent imaging evaluation (ultrasound and mammography) at our institution between January 1, 2002, and August 31, 2006, for focal breast signs or symptoms. Each area of concern was designated a study case. Benign versus malignant outcomes were determined by biopsy or imaging surveillance and through linkage with a tumor registry with a minimum 24-month follow-up. Overall cancer yield, sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value (NPV), and positive predictive value (PPV) of ultrasound and mammography were calculated.
Results: We identified 1208 cases in 954 patients. Outcomes were benign in 1185 of 1208 (98.1%) and malignant in 23 of 1208 (1.9%) cases. Sensitivities for ultrasound and mammography were 95.7% and 60.9%, respectively. Specificities for ultrasound and mammography were 89.2% and 94.4%, respectively. NPV was 99.9% for ultrasound and 99.2% for mammography. PPV was 13.2% for ultrasound and 18.4% for mammography. Mammography detected one additional malignancy in an asymptomatic area in a 32-year-old woman who was subsequently found to have a BRCA2 gene mutation.
Conclusion: Breast imaging is warranted in women 30-39 years of age with focal signs or symptoms because of the small (1.9%) but real risk of malignancy. Ultrasound has high sensitivity (95.7%) and high NPV (99.9%) in this setting and should be the primary imaging modality of choice. The added value of adjunct mammography is low.