Estimation of the benefit and harms of including clinical breast examination in an organized breast screening program Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: There is controversy about the value of clinical breast examination (CBE) in addition to mammography for breast screening. The study investigates the associations between risk factors such as mammographic density, hormone therapy use and family history and the effectiveness of screening mammography with or without CBE. METHODS: The cohort consists of women 50-69 years old screened at the Ontario Breast Screening Program. The associations of the risk factors were investigated using a joint logistic regression model that accommodates the partially unobserved disease status, clustered data structures, individual risk factors, and the dependence between true and false detection. RESULTS: Having high mammographic density, a first degree relative with breast cancer and using hormone therapy generally increased a woman's probability of being referred correctly. For low risk group (defined as without dense breasts, family history, and not currently using hormone therapy), the average loss of specificity ranged from 3.6% to 5.7% and the gain of sensitivity was between 10.6% and 21.2% with the addition of CBE. CONCLUSIONS: The addition of CBE to mammography would increase the overall sensitivity and decrease the specificity. CBE can be targeted to those women in which it has the highest net benefit.


  • Jiang, Huan
  • Walter, Stephen D
  • Brown, Patrick
  • Raina, Parminder
  • Chiarelli, Anna M

publication date

  • February 2019

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