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Time to raise how many mammograms radiologists must read?
Date:2/21/2011

Radiologists who interpret more mammograms and spend some time reading diagnostic mammograms do better at determining which suspicious breast lesions are cancer, according to a new report published online on February 22 and in print in the April issue of Radiology.

In direct response to a report from the Institute of Medicine that called for more research on the relationship between interpretive volume and performance in screening mammography, the multi-site team undertook the largest and most comprehensive study of U.S. radiologists. The Institute of Medicine is the health arm of the National Academies, advisors to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine.

Funded largely through a unique collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, the study examined information from 120 radiologists who interpreted 783,965 screening mammograms at six mammography registries in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) over five years. The researchers looked at how screening outcomes were related to four different measures of each radiologist's annual volume: the number of screening and diagnostic mammogramsseparately and in combinationand the percentage of total mammograms that were for screening rather than diagnosis.

"We found that radiologists who interpreted more mammograms a year had clinically and statistically significantly fewer false-positive findingswithout missing more cancers," said study leader Diana S.M. Buist, PhD, MPH, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute. "That means radiologists with higher 'interpretive volumes' could identify the same number of cancers, while making fewer women come in for extra tests that showed they did not have cancer." On average, for every cancer detected, 22.3 women were called back for more testing.

False-positive findingswhen a mammogram suggests a breast cancer is present, but it turns out not to because women
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Contact: Rebecca Hughes
hughes.r@ghc.org
206-287-2055
Group Health Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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