Open Access Open Badges Research article

Incidence, detection, and tumour stage of breast cancer in a cohort of Italian women with negative screening mammography report recommending early (short-interval) rescreen

Alessandra Ravaioli1, Flavia Foca1, Americo Colamartini1, Fabio Falcini1, Carlo Naldoni2, Alba C Finarelli2, Priscilla Sassoli de Bianchi2 and Lauro Bucchi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Romagna Cancer Registry, IRST, 47014 Meldola, Forlì, Italy

2 Department of Health, Emilia-Romagna Region, 40127 Bologna, Italy

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BMC Medicine 2010, 8:11  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-8-11

Published: 1 February 2010



Although poorly described in the literature, the practice of early (short-interval) rescreen after a negative screening mammogram is controversial due to its financial and psychological burden and because it is of no proven benefit.


The present study targeted an Italian 2-yearly screening programme (Emilia-Romagna Region, 1997-2002). An electronic dataset of 647,876 eligible negative mammography records from 376,257 women aged 50-69 years was record-linked with the regional breast cancer registry. The statistical analysis addressed the following research questions: (1) the prevalence of recommendation for early (<24 months) rescreen (RES) among negative mammography reports; (2) factors associated with the likelihood of a women receiving RES; and (3) whether women receiving RES and women receiving standard negative reports differed in terms of proportional incidence of interval breast cancer, recall rate at the next rescreen, detection rate of breast cancer at the next rescreen and the odds of having late-stage breast cancer during the interscreening interval and at the next rescreen.


RES was used in eight out of 13 screening centres, where it was found in 4171 out of 313,320 negative reports (average rate 1.33%; range 0.05%-4.33%). Reports with RES were more likely for women aged 50-59 years versus older women (odds ratio (OR) 1.33; 95% CI 1.25-1.42), for the first versus subsequent screening rounds (OR 1.91; 95% CI 1.79-2.04) and with a centre-specific recall rate below the average of 6.2% (OR 1.41; 95% CI 1.32-1.50). RES predicted a 3.51-fold (95% CI 0.94-9.29) greater proportional incidence of first-year interval cancers, a 1.90-fold (95% CI 1.62-2.22) greater recall rate at the next screen, a 1.72-fold (95% CI 1.01-2.74) greater detection rate of cancer at the next screen and a non-significantly decreased risk of late disease stage (OR 0.59; 95% CI 0.23-1.53).


The prevalence of RES was in line with the maximum standard level established by the Italian national guidelines. RES identified a subset of women with greater incidence of interval cancers and greater prevalence of cancers detected at the next screen.