Mammograms are heralded for reducing breast cancer mortality, but roughly 15% of all breast cancers occur in the interim—after a patient has received a clear mammogram but before her next screening. Anne Marie McCarthy, ScM, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, shares what she says are “practical gaps” in this research.

Most of the literature on this topic has focused on patients who are diagnosed with cancer within one year of a negative mammogram, an approach that ignores current U.S. Preventive Services Task Force screening recommendations: a mammogram every two years, for women over 50,” she says.

Most of the existing studies also don’t differentiate between early-stage and advanced-stage tumors. “A small early-stage cancer diagnosed within one year of a negative mammogram may be of less concern than an advanced-stage tumor diagnosed two years afterward,” she says.

A study she led, one of the largest of its kind to date, highlights several important factors that can help us pick out and possibly adjust the screening plan for women who are most likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage cancers within that two-year timeframe. The findings are published in the journal Cancer.

Read the full article on Penn Today.