BACKGROUND: Although breast cancer screening reduces breast cancer mortality at the population level, subgroups of women may benefit differently. We investigated the impact of health status on the effect of breast cancer screening.
METHODS: The study included 181 299 women invited in two population-based screening programs in Denmark and 1 526 446 control subjects, followed from April 1981 to December 2014. Poisson regressions were used to compare the observed breast cancer mortality rate in women invited to screening with the expected rate in the absence of screening among women with and without chronic diseases. Chronic diseases were defined as any diagnosis in the Charlson Comorbidity Index during 4 years before the first invitation to screening.
RESULTS: Almost 10% of women had chronic diseases before first invitation to screening. Whereas we observed a reduction in breast cancer mortality following invitation to screening of 28% (95% CI, 20% to 35%) among women without chronic diseases, only a 7% (95% CI, -39% to 37%) reduction was seen for women with chronic diseases (P-value for interaction = .22). For participants, the reduction, corrected for selection bias, was 35% (95% CI 16% to 49%) for women without, and 4% (95% CI -146% to 62%) for women with chronic diseases (P-value for interaction = .43).
CONCLUSION: Our data indicate a marginal effect of mammography screening on breast cancer mortality in women with chronic diseases. If our results are confirmed in other populations, the presence of chronic diseases will be an important factor to take into consideration in personalized screening.