Early detection of breast cancer the second time around: mammography in women with a personal history of breast cancer

Nehmat Houssami and Diana L Miglioretti
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2011.tb03054.x
Published online: 2 May 2011

Australian and US collaborators provide evidence on outcomes of mammographic screening in previously affected women

Women with a personal history of breast cancer (PHBC) represent an increasing group of cancer survivors, and have a lifelong increased risk of developing a new or recurrent cancer in the conserved (ipsilateral) breast, or a contralateral cancer. The risk of a “second” breast cancer in women with PHBC has been estimated at 5.4 to 6.6/1000 woman-years.1 Evidence of screening benefit in PHBC women comes from observational studies2-4 and extrapolation of benefit from randomised mammographic screening trials; consensus-based recommendations include annual mammography in routine surveillance of PHBC women.5-7 Early detection may also minimise the physical and psychosocial burden and consequences of a second breast cancer. Evidence reviews have consistently acknowledged the lack of quality data on mammographic screening in PHBC women,4,8 and research into screening high-risk women has mostly focused on those with breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility genes; evaluation of screening in women with PHBC has received relatively little attention.4,8

  • Nehmat Houssami1
  • Diana L Miglioretti2,3

  • 1 Screening and Test Evaluation Program, School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 Biostatistics Unit, Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, Wash, USA.
  • 3 Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash, USA.



We thank the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium investigators for supporting the research discussed in this editorial. Procedures for requesting Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium data for research purposes are provided at Nehmat Houssami receives support from National Health and Medical Research Council program grant 633003 to the Screening and Test Evaluation Program.

Competing interests:

We had prominent roles in the design, conduct and publication of the study discussed in this editorial.9


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