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Provista Blog > Are We Overdiagnosing Breast Cancer?

Provista Blog

Are We Overdiagnosing Breast Cancer?

Posted by Provista Diagnostics on November 3, 2016

How does cancer stage impact breast cancer care?

The stage at which breast cancer is diagnosed significantly impacts the overall cost of breast cancer related care; a false negative result can delay a woman's diagnosis, which could result in a later stage diagnosis and require more aggressive treatment. For this reason, it is critical to detect cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage, in order to improve outcomes for women diagnosed with the disease and to minimize the costs associated with false negatives and delayed diagnoses. Learn more from our post on the Pifalls in Early Breast Cancer Detection

How does mammography impact early detection?

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), "Breast-tumor size, overdiagnosis, and screening" looks at the introduction of screening mammography and the possibility overdiagnosis of small tumors that may not progress to clinically significant tumors. The study indicates "breast cancer screening has remained rooted in anatomy," which can only provide a visual interpretation of the tumor. Perhaps incorporating a protein-based approach that relies on biology could help rule out benign lesions, which are not indicative of breast cancer.


Early detection of cancer breast cancer is linked with increased survival rates of approximately 99 percent. The NEJM study observes that:

"From 1975 to 2012, the proportion of breast tumors that were small (invasive tumors measuting <2 cm or in situ carcinomas) increased from 36 to 68 percent, and the proportion og large tumors (invasive tumors measuring ≥2 cm) decreased from 64 to 32 percent." - NEJM Breast-Tumor Size, Overdiagnosis, and Screening Study

In response to NEJM article mentioned above, the publication produced the article titled, "Solving the Problem of Overdiagnosis", which states the need for "better tools to evaluate medical data and classify findings on the basis of clinical judgment." Does an increase in diagnosing small stage tumors mean that breast cancer is being overdiagnosed? What if breast cancer screening was coupled with a blood-based approach, which examined a woman's real-time disease status by identifying protein biomarkers in the blood stream? 

To learn more about early breast cancer detection, the financial and emotional burden of overdiagnosing breast cancer, read our free eBook: Breast Cancer Detection: Not a "One-Size-Fits-All" Approach

Provista Diagnostics

Provista Diagnostics

At Provista Diagnostics, our mission is to develop world-class diagnostic tests for indications in breast and gynecologic cancers. As a leading diagnostics company, our aim is to create, produce and market innovative solutions for unmet clinical needs. Our products and services help to diagnose diseases and inform better clinical decisions, thus enhancing women’s health and quality of life. We do this in a responsible and ethical manner with a commitment to excellence in every aspect of our business.