Journal Article

International Variation in Screening Mammography Interpretations in Community-Based Programs

Joann G. Elmore, Connie Y. Nakano, Thomas D. Koepsell, Laurel M. Desnick, Carl J. D’Orsi and David F. Ransohoff

in JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Volume 95, issue 18, pages 1384-1393
Published in print September 2003 | ISSN: 0027-8874
Published online September 2003 | e-ISSN: 1460-2105 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djg048
International Variation in Screening Mammography Interpretations in Community-Based Programs

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Background: Variations in mammography interpretations may have important clinical and economic implications. To evaluate international variability in mammography interpretation, we analyzed published reports from community-based screening programs from around the world. Methods: A total of 32 publications were identified in MEDLINE that fit the study inclusion criteria. Data abstracted from the publications included features of the population screened, examination technique, and clinical outcomes, including the percentage of mammograms judged to be abnormal, positive predictive value of an abnormal mammogram (PPVA), positive predictive value of a biopsy performed (PPVB), and percentages of breast cancer patients with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and minimal disease (DCIS and/or tumor size ≤10 mm). North American screening programs were compared with those from other countries using meta-regression analysis. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Wide ranges were noted for the percentage of mammograms judged to be abnormal (1.2%–15.0%), for PPVA (3.4%–48.7%), for PPVB (5.0%–85.2%), for percentage diagnosed with DCIS (4.3%–68.1%), and for percentage diagnosed with minimal disease (14.0%–80.6%). The percentage of mammograms judged to be abnormal were 2–4 percentage points higher in North American screening programs than they were in programs from other countries, after adjusting for covariates such as percentage of women who were less than 50 years of age and calendar year in which the mammogram was performed. The percentage of mammograms judged to be abnormal had a negative association with PPVA and PPVB (both P<.001) and a positive association with the frequency of DCIS cases diagnosed (P = .008) and the number of DCIS cases diagnosed per 1000 screens (P = .024); no consistent relationship was observed with the proportion of breast cancer diagnoses reported as having minimal disease or the number of minimal disease cases diagnosed per 1000 screens. Conclusion: North American screening programs appear to interpret a higher percentage of mammograms as abnormal than programs from other countries without evident benefit in the yield of cancers detected per 1000 screens, although an increase in DCIS detection was noted.

Journal Article.  8250 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Oncology

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