New Mammography Screening Performance Metrics Based on the Entire Screening Episode

BCSC investigators develop metrics that consider the result of the entire mammography screening episode, not just the initial assessment.

Posted by Brian Sprague, PhD at 11:15 AM on May 21, 2020


A new BCSC study shows how conventional performance metrics based on the initial assessment alone instead of the final assessment after any work-up with diagnostic imaging underestimates the interval cancer rate of a mammography screening episode, particularly for women with dense breasts or elevated breast cancer risk.  These differences have consequences for women, healthcare providers, and policymakers considering primary and supplemental breast cancer screening strategies.  The findings are particularly relevant to women with dense breasts, who in most US states are now informed of the limitations of mammography and advised to discuss supplemental screening options with their healthcare providers.  The authors recommend that:

  • Healthcare providers and policy makers should consider these new screening performance estimates based on the complete screening episode when considering supplemental screening recommendations. 
  • Researchers should use these new definitions based on the final assessment of the screening episode in future studies designed to identify women at high risk of mammography screening failures. 
  • Studies comparing screening outcomes according to modality (e.g., digital breast tomosynthesis vs. digital mammography) or evaluating the benefits of supplemental screening modalities should also consider using the final assessment of the screening episode instead of the initial assessment.

Full Text Citation and Link: Sprague BL, Miglioretti DL, Lee CI, Perry H, Tosteson ANA, Kerlikowske K.  Cancer. 2020 May 6. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32939. [Epub ahead of print] [Link to Article]

Posted by: Brian Sprague, PhD