The ability to detect breast cancer by mammogram readings misses 21% of
cancers even when the radiologist were dealing with a known lump according
to a recent study.
Diana Migloretti, a researcher at the Group Health Center for Health Studies
in Seattle reported the findings of her team recently in the Journal of
the National Cancer Institute.
The study evaluated 123 radiologists who looked at 36,000 diagnostic mammograms
from 1996 through 2003 at 72 US facilities. These were diagnostic rather
than screening mammograms, meaning that in each case the radiologist was
dealing with a known lump. Earlier studies had found variation in the
reading of screening mammograms but the new research found inconsistencies
even when a lump was known to be present.
“On average, 21 percent of breast cancers were missed and 4.3 percent
of women underwent a biopsy even though they didn’t have breast
cancer” Miglioretti said in a telephone interview reported by Reuters.