Mammographic and clinical characteristics of different phenotypes of screen-detected and interval breast cancers in a nationwide screening program

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2015 Nov;154(2):403-15. doi: 10.1007/s10549-015-3623-9. Epub 2015 Nov 3.


In the context of a population-based screening program, we aimed to evaluate the major mammographic features and clinicopathological characteristics of breast tumors at diagnosis and the associations between them, focusing on tumors with the worst prognosis. We analyzed cancers diagnosed in a cohort of 645,764 women aged 45-69 years participating in seven population-based screening programs in Spain, between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2006 and followed up until June 2009. We included all interval cancers and a sample of screen-detected cancers, whether invasive or in situ. We compared tumor-related information and breast density for different phenotypes (Triple-negative (TN), HER2+, Luminal B and Luminal A) in screen-detected and interval cancers. We used Chi-square or Fisher's exact test to compare major mammographic features of invasive versus in situ tumors, of screen-detected versus interval cancers, and of different types of interval cancers. We included 2582 tumors (1570 screen-detected and 1012 interval cancers). There were significant differences in the distribution of most clinicopathological variables between screen-detected and interval cancers. Invasive TN interval tumors were more common than other phenotypes in breasts with low mammographic density; three-quarters of these tumors presented as masses without associated calcifications. HER2+ tumors were more common in denser breasts and were associated with calcifications and multifocality. Architectural distortion was more common in Luminal A and Luminal B tumors. Certain radiologic findings are associated with pre-invasive lesions; these differ among invasive tumor phenotypes. We corroborate that TN and HER2+ cancers have distinctive appearances also in the context of population-based screening programs. This information can be useful for establishing protocols for diagnostic strategies in screening units.

Keywords: Breast cancer; HER2+; Interval cancer; Mammographic features; Screening; Triple-negative.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Breast Density
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human / abnormalities
  • Mammography / methods
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Phenotype*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor