Interval Breast Cancer Epidemiology, Radiology and Biological Characteristics

  • Sherif MonibEmail author
  • Sonia Narula
  • Nina Breunung-Joshi
Original Article


When mammography screening programs are fully implemented, interval cancers comprise a substantial proportion of incident breast cancers. Interval cancers may have been overlooked at the last mammography examination or become apparent because they grew so rapidly that the detectable preclinical phase (sojourn time) was shorter than the screening interval. This overview describes the epidemiology, radiological and biological characteristics and time of diagnosis of interval breast cancers in population of mammography screening. Our team retrospectively collected data of symptomatic patients who presented to the West Hertfordshire Trust Breast Unit during the period from 1st of October 2016 until the 30th of September 2017 and identified any interval cancers (screening imaging 40 months prior). Imaging included two-view digital mammogram as well as ultrasound. The total number of cancers diagnosed during this period was 335 patients of which a total of 49 patients (14.6%) were interval cancers, with an average age of 62.42 years; 48 patients (97.9%) had new cancers while one patient (2.1%) had recurrent disease, and 2 patients (4%) had metastatic disease.

Average tumour size was 26.79 mm (range 81 mm); 37 patients (75. 5%) had IDC with or without other pathology while average tumour grade was grade 2. Our review demonstrated that interval cancers are more common with invasive high-grade disease; multicentre further studies including larger numbers will be very informative.


Interval breast cancer Breast cancer Mammography screening 



breast cancer


NHS Breast Screening Program


disclosure of audit


duty of candour




invasive ductal carcinoma


invasive lobular carcinoma


ductal carcinoma in situ


pleomorphic lobular carcinoma in situ


lymphovascular invasion


hormone receptors


sentinel lymph node biopsy


axillary lymph node clearance


wide local excision


quality assurance



We thank other radiologists in the Breast Unit Radiology Department for reporting mammograms and ultrasound scans.

Authors’ Contributions

All authors were responsible for the ongoing patient’s care of the patient in the hospital, data collection, literature research and drafting the manuscript. SN and NJ were involved in patient’s diagnostics. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Competing Interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

No ethical approval was needed for this study as it is a retrospective analysis of standard practice.


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Copyright information

© Association of Surgeons of India 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St Albans City Hospital, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS TrustSt AlbansUK

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