With the natural history and optimal treatment of a high proportion of screen-detected breast cancers yet to be determined, treatment poses the management team with a number of therapeutic dilemmas. This study surveys the management policy and treatment of a consecutive series of 100 screen-detected cancers treated in a single breast unit. The problems encountered are discussed. There were 87 women with stage Tis or T1 tumours, including 26 women with in situ cancers, four with invasive cancers less than 5 mm in size, and seven with tubular cancers. Sixty-six women were managed with breast-conserving surgery and 36 women underwent localisation biopsy as the sole surgical treatment of the breast. With selection bias for high-grade and lateral tumours, only 2/13 cancers up to 10 mm in size were lymph node positive on axillary clearance. All lymph node positive women received adjuvant therapy. No adjuvant therapy was given in 43 cases, including those with in situ cancer. Thirty-six had extensive intraductal component (EIC). Patient and surgeon choice tends to be a major factor both in type of surgery and adjuvant therapy for screen-detected breast cancer. The optimal treatment for tumours detected by breast cancer screening is debatable and randomised trials on their management need to be expedited
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