Age-related differences in patients with nonpalpable breast carcinomas

David E. Wazer, Irene Gage, Marc J. Homer, Steven H. Krosnick, Christopher Schmid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. The survival benefit of screening mammography may be influenced by the age of the screened population. The current series examines the influence of age on the clinical, histopathologic, and prognostic features of nonpalpable breast carcinoma. METHODS. Needle localization and biopsy of suspicious mammographic lesions identified 173 breast carcinomas that were occult by physical examination. The mammographic appearance, the tumor histology and size, as well as axillary lymph node and estrogen receptor status of these carcinomas were reviewed. RESULTS. Mammographic findings of a mass or density (without calcifications) were most common (46%) and the majority of tumors were invasive ductal carcinoma (70%). The median age of the patients was 59 years. Tumor histology and mammographic findings varied by age: women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) had a median age of 50 years, whereas patients with invasive ductal carcinoma without associated intraductal tumor had a median age of 65 years. Both younger age (P = 0.001) and microcalcifications (P = 0.0001) were strongly correlated with DCIS. The mean greatest tumor dimension was 1.34 cm. Axillary metastases were found in 21%, 15%, and 50% of invasive tumors with sizes of <1 cm, <2 cm, and >2 cm, respectively, and were uninfluenced by age. Estrogen receptor analysis of invasive tumors was >10 fmol/mg in 47% and 84% of women aged <50 years and >50 years, respectively. CONCLUSIONS. Mammographically detected lesions in younger women are typified by a higher incidence of DCIS or tumors with an intraductal component. Nonpalpable invasive carcinomas in women ≤50 years and >50 years appear to be biologically similar by virtue of axillary lymph node status, although estrogen receptor positive tumors are more common in older patients. These age related differences may partially account for age- related variations in the survival impact of mammographic screening programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1432-1437
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • breast neoplasms
  • ductal carcinoma
  • intraductal carcinoma
  • mammography
  • nonpalpable breast carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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