When cancer is detected in a screening mammogram, on occasion retrospective review of prior screening (pre-index) mammograms indicates a likely presence of cancer. These missed cancers during pre-index screens constitute a delay in detection and diagnosis. This study was undertaken to quantify the missed cancer rate by auditing pre-index screens to improve the quality of mammography screening practice. From a cohort of 135 screen-detected cancers, 120 pre-index screening mammograms could be retrieved and served as the study sample. A consensus read by 2 radiologists who interpreted the pre-index screens in an unblinded manner with full knowledge of cancer location, cancer type, lesion type, and pathology served as the truth or reference standard. Five radiologists interpreted the pre-index screens in a blinded manner. Established performance metrics such as sensitivity and specificity were quantified for each reader in interpreting these pre-index screens in a blinded manner. All five radiologists detected lesions in 8/120 (6.7%) screens. Excluding the 2 readers whose performance was close to random, all the 3 remaining readers detected lesions in 13 pre-index screens. This indicates that there is a delay in diagnosis by at least one cycle from 8/120 (6.7%) to 13/120 (10.8%). There were no observable trends in terms of either the cancer type or the lesion type. Auditing prior screening mammograms in screen-detected cancers can help in identifying the proportion of cases that were missed during interpretation and help in quantifying the delay in breast cancer detection.
- Breast cancer
- Missed cancer
- Quality improvement
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging