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More Screening Lowers False-Positive Mammography Rate

Increasing minimum screening volume requirements would not hinder cancer detection

MONDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. radiologists with higher annual screening volumes and focus have statistically significant lower false-positive rates and cancer detection rates during mammography, according to a study published in the April issue of Radiology.

Diana S.M. Buist, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, and colleagues examined whether the interpretive volume of U.S. radiologists affected their screening mammography performance. A total of 120 radiologists from the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium who interpreted 783,965 screening mammograms from 2002 to 2006 were included in the analysis. Annual interpretive volume measures (total, screening, diagnostic, and screening focus) were examined in relation to the next year's screening sensitivity, false-positive rate, and cancer detection rate.

The investigators found that the mean sensitivity was 85.2 percent, and was not significantly affected by total, screening, or diagnostic volume, but was significantly lower in radiologists with a greater screening focus. The mean false-positive rate was 9.1 percent, and radiologists who had the lowest total and screening volumes had significantly higher rates. Radiologists with low diagnostic volume had significantly lower false-positive rates, while those with a greater screening focus had significantly lower cancer detection rates. Volume handled did not affect median invasive tumor size and proportion of cancers detected at early stages.

"Increasing minimum interpretive volume requirements in the United States, while adding a minimal requirement for diagnostic interpretation, could reduce the number of false-positive work-ups without hindering cancer detection," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed a financial relationship with Hologic Inc.

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