Tipping the Balance of Benefits and Harms to Favor Screening Mammography Starting at Age 40 Years A Comparative Modeling Study of Risk

Nicolien van Ravesteyn, DL Miglioretti, NK Stout, SJ Lee, CB Schechter, DSM Buist, H Huang, Eveline Heijnsdijk, A Trentham-Dietz, O Alagoz, AM Near, K Kerlikowske, HD Nelson, JS Mandelblatt, Harry de Koning

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Background: Timing of initiation of screening for breast cancer is controversial in the United States. Objective: To determine the threshold relative risk (RR) at which the harm-benefit ratio of screening women aged 40 to 49 years equals that of biennial screening for women aged 50 to 74 years. Design: Comparative modeling study. Data Sources: Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium, and medical literature. Target Population: A contemporary cohort of women eligible for routine screening. Time Horizon: Lifetime. Perspective: Societal. Intervention: Mammography screening starting at age 40 versus 50 years with different screening methods (film, digital) and screening intervals (annual, biennial). Outcome Measures: Benefits: life-years gained, breast cancer deaths averted; harms: false-positive mammography findings; harm-benefit ratios: false-positive findings/life-years gained, false-positive findings/deaths averted. Results of Base-Case Analysis: Screening average-risk women aged 50 to 74 years biennially yields the same false-positive findings/life-years gained as biennial screening with digital mammography starting at age 40 years for women with a 2-fold increased risk above average (median threshold RR, 1.9 [range across models, 1.5 to 4.4]). The threshold RRs are higher for annual screening with digital mammography (median, 4.3 [range, 3.3 to 10]) and when false-positive findings/deaths averted is used Results of Sensitivity Analysis: The threshold RRs changed slightly when a more comprehensive measure of harm was used and were relatively insensitive to lower adherence assumptions. Limitation: Risk was assumed to influence onset of disease without influencing screening performance. Conclusion: Women aged 40 to 49 years with a 2-fold increased risk have similar harm-benefit ratios for biennial screening mammography as average-risk women aged 50 to 74 years. Threshold RRs required for favorable harm-benefit ratios vary by screening method, interval, and outcome measure.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)609-U39
JournalAnnals of Internal Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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