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Differential Use of Screening Mammography in Older Women Initiating Metformin versus Sulfonylurea



Differential use of screening mammography may lead to biased detection of breast cancer. This study aimed to compare receipt of screening mammography and the incidence of screen-detected breast cancer between metformin and sulfonylurea initiators.


We used 2006-2014 US Medicare claims to identify initiators of metformin or sulfonylurea aged 65+ years continuously enrolled in Parts A/B for ≥2 years pre-initiation and ≥2 years post-initiation. We reported frequencies of screening mammograms and screen-detected breast cancer in 1 year pre-initiation among all cohort members and in 1 year post-initiation among cancer-free cohort members. Weighted screening risk differences (RDs) were estimated comparing metformin to sulfonylurea group.


We identified 41,436 and 13,367 initiators of metformin and sulfonylurea, 35% and 24% of which had ≥1 screening mammogram in 1 year pre-initiation (weighted RD: 6 percentage points; 95% CI: 5 to 7), respectively. The weighted RD for screen-detected breast cancer associated with metformin was 0.00 percentage points (95% CI: -0.09 to 0.09). Among cancer-free cohort members, metformin initiators had 5 percentage points (95% CI: 4 to 6) and 0.11 percentage points (95% CI: -0.02 to 0.23) absolute risk excess of screening mammography and screen-detected breast cancer in 1 year post-initiation, compared with sulfonylurea initiators, respectively.


Metformin initiators were more likely to receive screening mammograms than sulfonylurea initiators pre- and post-initiation, indicating possible detection bias due to differential screening mammography. Researchers should be aware of the potential for more screening mammograms pre- and post-initiation when interpreting the findings of metformin on breast cancer incidence.

To read more, see the following article on the PubMed website: PMID: 28370798