Persistence of patient-detected breast cancer over time: 1990-2019.

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breast cancer; cohort study; diagnosis; incidence; patient detected; race; stage; symptomatic.


BACKGROUND: The continued presentation of patient-detected breast cancer (BC) and associated characteristics over time is understudied.

METHODS: In a large institutional cohort of first primary stage 0-IV patients with BC in 1990-2019 (n = 15,827), diagnostic method (patient-detected [PtDBC] [n = 5844]; mammography-detected [MamDBC] [nondiagnostic] [n = 9248]; and physician-detected [PhysDBC] [n = 736]) and patient and tumor characteristics including age, race, TNM stage, and hormone-receptor status were reviewed. Pearson χ

RESULTS: In a cohort from 1990 to 2019, the proportion aged 50-74 years (55%-63%; p < .001) and non-White race (9%-37%; p < .001) increased over time. Percentage PtDBC decreased over time but case numbers increased (1990-1999: 44% [n = 1399]; 2010-2019: 34% [n = 2349]; p < .001). Excluding stage 0, PtDBC declined from 47% to 41% over time (p < .001). In 2010-2019, 21% of cases were stage 0, 91% of which were mammography detected (n = 1439). Seventy percent of patient-detected cases were stage II-IV (stage II, 44%; stage III, 20%; stage IV, 6%; p < .001). In adjusted logistic regression, the odds of PtDBC decreased over time (2000-2009: odds ratio [OR], .65 [95% CI, .58-.72]; 2010-2019: OR, .54 [95% CI, .49-.60]), with age

CONCLUSIONS: The relative proportion of PtDBC decreased to a constant 34%-40% of total cases after 1990-1999. PtDBC case numbers increased in subsequent years (2000-2019), and were consistently higher stage. Interval cancers, mammography-screening uptake, breast health awareness of age groups outside screening guidelines, and underserved socioeconomic groups may be related to the continued significant PtDBC incidence.

PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY: After decades of mammography-screening availability, symptomatic patient-detected breast cancer declined over time from 44% to a persistent rate of 34% in our institutional cohort. The persistence of patient-detected breast cancer over time presents a difficult situation for patients and care givers without clear diagnosis pathways for younger and older women outside recommended screening guidelines, who often present with higher stage and more lethal characteristics. More timely diagnosis and treatment including breast health awareness, prompt presentation of breast problems, outreach to younger age and minority groups, and provision of specialized training and care delivery for symptomatic patient-detected breast cancer are needed.

Clinical Institute


Clinical Institute

Women & Children