Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Survival among Patients Diagnosed by a Structured Community Based Screening Program Compared to Opportunistic Diagnosis: A Case Control Study

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2023 Mar 1;24(3):923-927. doi: 10.31557/APJCP.2023.24.3.923.


Introduction: Breast cancer is ranked as the most common type of cancer effecting women worldwide. Early detection is associated with improved morbidity and mortality, along with decreased recurrence rates, due to regular breast cancer screening recommendations advised for women over the age of 40. Women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) typically present with advanced symptoms at later stages due to lower-than-average rates of breast cancer awareness and screening.

Methods: A case-control study was conducted utilizing data collected over 20 years in the primary care clinics linked to at a tertiary hospital to demonstrate the role of structured breast cancer screening programs within well-established primary care setting. Results were compared with outcomes of cancer cases diagnosed in the community through opportunistic diagnosis.

Results: A total 292 patients included in the study had an overall mean survival time of 160 months, with a statistically significant higher survival time noted amongst the primary care group of 49 patients (p<0.01) by approximately 85 months. Clinical stages and clinical response rates between the two patient groups were found to be statistically significant (p<0.01), where 35 (73.3%) primary care patients were stage IIA and below, compared to 41 (30%) oncology patients. Patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the primary care group with well-established breast cancer screening programs were noted to present with breast cancer at earlier stages, have better prognosis and lower mortality as opposed to the oncology patient group.

Conclusion: Our study highlights the need of structured breast cancer screening programs within well supported primary health services in Saudi Arabia and the region. Such programs were associated with improved survival outcomes and more favorable clinical responses. There is an urgent need to enable primary care services with the appropriate resources to significantly impact patient morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: Mammogram; Oncology; Primary Care; Prognosis; Saudi Arabia.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Prognosis
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology