The aim of this study was to estimate breast cancer survival according to detection mode for 5120 women with invasive breast cancer, in particular for those detected in the screening intervals. We found a significant survival difference in favour of women with cancer detected in the screening intervals (n=729) compared with those uninvited (n=1879) during the 13-year follow-up. Detection mode was proven to modify the prognostic effect of stage. Women with stage I interval cancer had shorter survival and those with stage II had longer survival than expected. It is suggested that interval cancers might consist of two subgroups with different behaviour: one of fast-growing tumours presenting as stage I cases and another of slow-growing tumours presenting as stage II+ cases. A hypothesis related to this observation is discussed.