Screening mammography mitigates breast cancer disparities through early detection of triple negative breast cancer


      • Screen-detected TNBCs are diagnosed at earlier stage and have improved overall survival.
      • Screen-detected TNBCs are diagnosed at earlier stage.
      • Screening mammography mitigates breast cancer disparities observed for African American women through early detection.



      Screening mammography improves breast cancer survival through early detection, but Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) is more difficult to detect on mammography and has lower survival compared to non-TNBC, even when detected at early stages. TNBC is twice as common among African American (AA) compared to White American (WA) women, thereby contributing to the 40% higher breast cancer mortality rates observed in AA women. The role of screening mammography in addressing breast cancer disparities is therefore worthy of study.


      Outcomes were evaluated for TNBC patients treated in the prospectively-maintained databases of academic cancer programs in two metropolitan cities of the Northeast and Midwest, 1998–2018.


      Of 756 TNBC cases, 301 (39.8%) were mammographically screen-detected. 46% of 189 AA and 38.5% of 460 WA patients had screen-detected TNBC (p = 0.16). 25.3% of 257 TNBC cases ≤50 years old had screen-detected disease compared to 47.3% of 499 TNBC cases >50 years old (p < 0.0001).
      220/301 (73.1%) screen-detected TNBC cases were T1 lesions versus 118/359 (32.9%) non-screen-detected cases (p < 0.0001). Screen-detected TNBC was more likely to be node-negative (51.9% v. 40.4%; p < 0.0001).
      Five-year overall survival was better in screen-detected TNBC compared to nonscreen-detected TNBC (92.8% v. 81.5%; p < 0.0001) in the entire cohort. The magnitude of this effect was most significant among AA patients (Fig. 1). Screening-related survival patterns were similar among AA and WA patients in both cities.


      Data from two different cities demonstrates the value of screening mammography to mitigate breast cancer disparities in AA women through the early detection of TNBC.


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