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Higher volume reduces false positives in screening mammography
Date:2/21/2011

OAK BROOK, Ill. Radiologists who interpret a high volume of mammograms may not detect more cancers but are better at determining which suspicious lesions are not malignant, according to a new study published online and in the April print edition of Radiology.

"Contrary to our expectations, we observed no clear association between volume and sensitivity," said the study's lead author, Diana S.M. Buist, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior investigator at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. "We did, however, find that radiologists with higher interpretive volume had significantly lower false-positive rates and recalled fewer women per cancer detected."

An exam result is considered to be a false positive when further testing is recommended for a suspicious lesion but no cancer is found. In addition to causing anxiety for patients, false positives prompt additional testing that costs approximately $1.6 billion per year, according to Dr. Buist.

The study, partially funded by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, included a review of data from six Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium mammography registries in California, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington and New Mexico.

The researchers examined various measures of interpretive volume in relation to screening performance for 120 radiologists who interpreted 783,965 screening mammograms between 2002 and 2006. Volume was measured in four ways: the number of screening and diagnostic mammograms read by a radiologist annuallyboth separately and in combinationand the ratio of screening to total (diagnostic plus screening) mammograms. Screening performance was measured by sensitivity (the ability to detect all cancers present) and false-positive and cancer detection rates.

The results showed that performance varied not only by the number of exams interpreted, but also by the ratio of screening to total (diagnostic plus screening) m
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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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