Periodic mammographic follow-up of probably benign lesions: results in 3,184 consecutive cases.

The author prospectively evaluated the value of periodic mammographic surveillance among 3,184 consecutive cases of nonpalpable, probably benign breast lesions detected with mammography. Follow-up consisted of four mammographic examinations during a 3- or 3.5-year period. Clinical outcome was ascertained in each case after the study period, whether or not patients complied with the protocol. Probably benign lesions were subsequently found to be malignant in 17 cases (positive predictive value for cancer, 0.5%). Fifteen of the 17 cancers were identified by means of interval mammographic change prior to development of a palpable mass; all 17 were stage 0 or stage 1 tumors. All 17 women who had cancer currently show no evidence of tumor recurrence (median duration of follow-up, 5 years). These results should help establish the validity of managing mammographically detected, probably benign lesions with periodic mammographic surveillance. By decreasing the number of biopsies of benign lesions and thereby substantially reducing costs, this approach may help overcome a major barrier to widespread use of mammographic screening.

Article History

Published in print: 1991