Computer-aided detection system for mammography does not change recall, detection rates

A study of more than 100,000 screening mammograms acquired at a large academic practice and interpreted either with or without the results of a computer-aided detection system has found that computer-aided detection does not change either the recall rate or breast cancer detection rate compared with mammograms interpreted without a computerized detection system. These results, published in the February 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, differ from those of earlier studies that suggested that computer-aided detection may increase the breast cancer detection rate by as much as 20% without substantially affecting the recall rate.

Several computer-aided detection systems are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help radiologists identify regions of the breast that might be cancerous. (Computer-aided detection systems are different from digital mammography; digital mammography refers only to the manner in which the mammogram itself is acquired, and computer-aided detection systems refer to software programs designed to identify suspicious areas on either film or digital mammograms.) Computer-aided detection systems were approved based mainly on results of studies done in controlled settings; however, there is little information available on how such systems actually perform in a clinical setting.

David Gur, Sc.D., and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh, studied the mammography recall and cancer detection rates at a clinical breast imaging practice at Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for the 3-year period during which a computer-aided detection system was introduced. From 2000 to 2002, 24 radiologists had interpreted 56,432 mammograms without the use of the computer-aided detection system and 59,139 mammograms were interpreted with the aid of such a system. There was no statistically significant difference in recall rates (about 11% for both groups) or breast cancer detection

Contact: Katherine Arnold
Journal of the National Cancer Institute

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