The Demands of Screening Mammography on Surgical Inpatient Services of Breast Cancer

Paajanen, Hannu; Pulliainen, Lea; Hendolin, Niilo; Hermunen, Heikki; Helle, Markku; Dean, Peter B.
July 2001
American Surgeon;Jul2001, Vol. 67 Issue 7, p648
Academic Journal
A nationwide mammographic screening of women ages 50 to 59 years commenced in Finland in January 1987. We studied the demands of screening on surgical inpatient services by comparing the treatment strategy, volume of breast biopsies, and hospital stay before and after implementation of mass screening of women age 50 to 59. Approximately 20 patients per 100,000 inhabitants were referred annually from mass screening for surgical biopsies, in half of which cancer was detected. In 1985 through 1986 (before screening) we operated on 134 patients suspected of having breast cancer. After the first (in 1990) and the second (in 1995) round of mammographic screening we operated on 161 patients in 2 years suspected of having breast cancer. Concurrently 25 of 92 cancers (27%) were found only because of the screening. Before the screening period clinical symptoms and palpable tumors were cause for referral to surgery in 84 per cent of the cases and abnormal mammography in only 16 per cent. During screening these ratios were 34 and 61 per cent, respectively. The number of Tis-1 cancers (<2 cm) increased from 44 per cent before screening to 70 per cent during screening. In contrast the number of T2 cancers (2-4 cm) decreased from 40 to 20 per cent. The mammographic screening did not increase the hospital stay of patients. We conclude that the mammographic screening program of all women age 50 to 59 years increased the number of surgical biopsies in our hospital by only 30 per cent. Breast cancer was found at an earlier stage during screening. More than one-fourth of breast cancers are currently found through the mass screening program in Finland.


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