Breast cancer diagnosis under the age of forty years.

S. Ciatto, A. H. Smith, C. Di Maggio, L. Pescarini, E. Lattanzio, A. Ancona, C. Punzo, G. De Leo, P. Burke, M. G. Bonomini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors report on a multicentric consecutive series of 382 cases of primary breast cancer detected before the age of 40 years. Physical examination (PE) was always performed, whereas other diagnostic tests were performed in selected cases, namely mammography (M) in 334, fine needle aspiration cytology (CYT) in 188 and thermography (TH) in 123 cases. Single tests showed a high rate of false-negative/benign cases (PE, 0.23; M, 0.26; CYT, 0.37 and TH, 0.50), especially when the T1 subgroup was considered (PE, 0.34; M, 0.38; CYT, 0.42 and TH, 0.78). The poor results recorded for TH make its current diagnostic use highly questionable. The policy of extensive biopsy of all "dubious" benign lesions on PE allowed for the detection of 41 of 382 cancers and reduced the PE false-negative/benign rate to 0.12 for the total or 0.15 for T1 cancers, although about 80 unnecessary biopsies for each cancer detected were performed in this way. The association of PE to one or more tests resulted in even lower false-negative rates (0.06 for the total, 0.10 for T1 cancers). The authors criticize the aggressive policy of extensive biopsy recommendation based only on a dubious report on PE alone and stress the opportunity of the routine association of M and CYT to PE, since this combination seems to achieve a higher breast cancer detection rate even in this age group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-461
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 31 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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