Tumour characteristics and survival in patients with invasive interval breast cancer classified according to mammographic findings at the latest screening: a comparison of true interval and missed interval cancers.
The aim of this study was to investigate whether different mammographic categories of interval cancer classified according to findings at the latest screening are associated with different distributions of prognostic factors or with different survival rates. The series consisted of all patients with invasive interval cancer detected from May 1978 to August 1995 (n = 544). The tumours were evaluated with regard to age, radiological category, interval between the latest screen and diagnosis and tumour characteristics at the time of diagnosis. We investigated possible relationships between the survival rate of patients with interval cancer and the interval between the latest screen and diagnosis, tumour characteristics and radiological category of the interval tumours. The study focused on comparison of patients with true interval and missed interval cancer. Women with mammographically occult tumours were younger than those in the other radiological categories. Comparisons of true interval cancers with overlooked or misinterpreted tumours showed equal distributions of age, tumour size, TNM stage and lymph node status. The overlooked or misinterpreted tumours showed significantly higher proportions of grade-I tumours (22 vs 11 %), tumours with low S-phase fraction (SPF; 44 vs 24 %) and oestrogen receptor (ER) positive tumours (72 vs 57 %). However, analyses of survival rates disclosed no clear differences between the two radiological categories. Radiological category and interval between the latest screen and diagnosis were not genuine predictors of the prognosis in patients with invasive interval breast cancer. No certain prognostic difference existed between true interval cancers and overlooked or misinterpreted interval breast cancers, despite higher proportions of grade-I tumours, ER positive tumours and tumours with low SPF in the latter group.