Breast cancer screening in a resource poor country: Ultrasound versus mammography

Ghana Med J. 2017 Mar;51(1):6-12. doi: 10.4314/gmj.v51i1.2.


Background: Breast cancer is the commonest female cancer in Nigeria. Despite its increased awareness, affordability of available screening tools is a bane. Mammography, the goal standard for screening is costly and not widely available in terms of infrastructure, technical/personnel capabilities. Ultrasound is accessible and affordable.

Objectives: This study compared the use of ultrasound and mammography as breast cancer screening tools in women in South West Nigeria by characterizing and comparing the prevalent breast parenchyma, breast cancer features and the independent sensitivity of ultrasound and mammography.

Methods: This cross sectional comparative descriptive study used both ultrasound and mammography as screening tools in 300 consenting women aged 30 to 60 years who attended a free breast cancer screening campaign in a tertiary hospital in Lagos. Categorical variables were presented in tables and Chi squares for associations P-value set at ± 0.1.

Results: Mean age was 41.01 + 6.5years with majority in the 30 - 39 year age group 139 (55%). Fatty (BIRADS A and B) parenchyma predominated {ultrasound 237 (79%); mammography 233 (77.7%)} in all age groups. 7 (2.3%) were confirmed malignant by histology with (6) in the 30-39 age group and (1) in the 40-49 age group. Ultrasound detected all the confirmed cases 7(100%), whereas mammography detected 6 (85%). Sensitivity was higher using ultrasound (100%) than mammography (85.7%).

Conclusion: Ultrasound can be utilized as a first line of screening especially in remote/rural areas in developing world.

Funding: Part funding from Run for Cure governmental organization.

Keywords: Breast Cancer; Mammography; Sensitivity; Ultrasound; Women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography*
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nigeria
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Ultrasonography*