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The prognostic potential of mammographic growth rate of invasive breast cancer in the Nijmegen breast cancer screening cohort.

OBJECTIVES: Insight into the aggressiveness of potential breast cancers found in screening may optimize recall decisions. Specific growth rate (SGR), measured on mammograms, may provide valuable prognostic information. This study addresses the association of SGR with prognostic factors and overall survival in patients with invasive carcinoma of no special type (NST) from a screened population.

METHODS: In this historic cohort study, 293 women with NST were identified from all participants in the Nijmegen screening program (2003-2007). Information on clinicopathological factors was retrieved from patient files and follow-up on vital status through municipalities. On consecutive mammograms, tumor volumes were estimated. After comparing five growth functions, SGR was calculated using the best-fitting function. Regression and multivariable survival analyses described associations between SGR and prognostic factors as well as overall survival.

RESULTS: Each one standard deviation increase in SGR was associated with an increase in the Nottingham prognostic index by 0.34 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.21-0.46]. Each one standard deviation increase in SGR increased the odds of a tumor with an unfavorable subtype (based on histologic grade and hormone receptors; odds ratio 2.14 [95% CI: 1.45-3.15]) and increased the odds of diagnosis as an interval cancer (versus screen-detected; odds ratio 1.57 [95% CI: 1.20-2.06]). After a median of 12.4 years of follow-up, 78 deaths occurred. SGR was not associated with overall survival (hazard ratio 1.12 [95% CI: 0.87-1.43]).

CONCLUSIONS: SGR may indicate prognostically relevant differences in tumor aggressiveness if serial mammograms are available. A potential association with cause-specific survival could not be determined and is of interest for future research.

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