A 10-year retrospective study conducted at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO found that mammography detected smaller tumors with less nodal metastasis than identified through clinical (manual) breast exams among women in this age group.

Of the 1581 breast cancer patients treated between 1998 and 2008, 20% of patients were between the ages of 40 and 49, 47% of patients were diagnosed through mammography and 53% through clinical exams or other non-mammographic methods.

In the mammography group, the mean tumor size was 20 mm in diameter, while non-mammographically identified tumors were 30 mm.

The study also found that the frequency of lymph node involvement in the clinically detected groups was about twice that of mammographically detected patients.

Five year disease-free survival rate was estimated statistically through survival analysis methodology at 94% for mammography group and 78% for those identified clinically.

Node negativity and tumor size were significantly associated with an increase in survival.

The University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center Surgical Oncology chief Paul Dale said younger breast cancer patients not undergoing screening and early detection may miss out on important therapy that could significantly impact their survival.