The first breast cancer screening program in southern Italy: Preliminary results from three municipalities on the Naples province

S. De Placido, F. Nuzzo, F. Perrone, C. Carlomagno, A. Noviello, P. Delrio, E. Di Palma, M. T. Pini, P. L. Cerato, C. Bianco, M. Rivellini, G. Petrella, C. Gallo, A. Sodano, A. R. Bianco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and Background: It has been demonstrated that breast cancer screening induces a 30% reduction of specific mortality. In May 1990, we started a pilot screening program to assess the feasibility of carrying out such a program in Campania (southern Italy). Herein we report the results of the first round of the program from three municipalities (Giugliano, Mugnano and Qualiano) that lie within the local health district no. 23, close to the city of Naples. Methods: Women between the ages of 50 and 69 years were sent a personalized letter inviting them to attend the screening test; those not responding were sent a second invitation. The screening test consisted of clinical examination followed by two-view mammography. Second-level diagnostic tools were sonography, fine needle aspiration (manual, echo-guided and stereotaxic) and surgical biopsy. Results: Out of 5,732 women invited for the first round, 1,813 (31.6%) attended the screening. Attendance rate was higher among younger women. Ninety-one women were positive at the screening test and underwent further examination (recall rate, 5.0%). Among them, 1 g had surgical biopsy (biopsy rate, 1.0%) that led to breast cancer diagnosis in 11 cases. The benign/malignant biopsy rate was 0.73. Detection rate was 6.07 x 1,000 screened women and varied among age categories, increasing within the 60-69 subgroup; detection rate/expected incidence ratio in the overall group was 4.5 and also increased within the older age category. Seven out of 11 cancers were at UICC stage 0-I. Among 327 self-referring women, 38 were positive (recall rate, 11.6%), and 14 underwent biopsy (biopsy rate, 4.3%), which showed cancer in 7 cases (benign/malignant biopsy rate, 1.0). In addition, 2 inflammatory cancers were diagnosed without surgical biopsy. Thus 9 cancer cases were detected in this group. Self-referring women differed from responding women in that they had a higher frequency of symptoms or familiar history of cancer, and a higher educational level and awareness of preventive medicine. Clinical examination added no diagnostic advantage in the responding group but did not significantly worsen the recall rate. In the self-referring group, one case of inflammatory cancer was missed by mammography and diagnosed by clinical examination. Conclusion: The early results (recall rate = 5%, detection rate/expected incidence ratio = 4.5, benign/malignant biopsy rate = 0.73, advanced cancers = 36.4%) are encouraging and indicate the validity of the program. Strategies to improve attendance rate are planned.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-12
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • breast cancer screening
  • population based
  • self-referring women
  • southern Italy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'The first breast cancer screening program in southern Italy: Preliminary results from three municipalities on the Naples province'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this