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Access to Prior Mammograms Reduces Unnecessary Referrals

Only one-quarter to one-third of cases request previous test results

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Access to prior mammograms makes the surveillance method more effective and reduces unnecessary referrals due to non-lesion locations, but they are only requested in 24 percent to 33 percent of cases, according to a study published in the January issue of Radiology.

Antonius A.J. Roelofs, Ph.D., of Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a study involving 12 experienced screening radiologists. They were given 160 soft-copy screening mammograms, of which 80 were obtained from women who were later diagnosed with breast cancer, and 80 from women with normal or benign test results. The radiologists examined the mammograms twice, once with and once without access to prior mammograms.

Prior mammograms were also available on request, and were requested more frequently when the radiologists examined positive cases, in all between 24 percent and 33 percent of cases. When the radiologists did not request prior mammograms, they made a significantly higher number of annotations. When prior mammograms were available without request, referrals were reduced by up to 44 percent.

"Overall performance may become worse when prior mammograms are not always available, and it may be the case that prior mammograms are not requested frequently enough in clinical practice because of the additional workload involved," the authors conclude.

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