The study involved more than 110,000 mammograms from the Dutch breast screening program. Researchers found that higher volumetric breast density, as automatically measured by VolparaDensity software, affects mammography performance measures, such as sensitivity and the rates of recall, false positives, and interval cancers.
The study was published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (23 December 2016) and was carried out in the Adapting Breast Cancer Screening Strategy Using Personalized Risk Estimation (ASSURE) project, funded by the European Union. The results suggest that because fully automated measurements of breast density have much higher reproducibility than visual assessment, this automatic method could help with implementing density-based supplemental screening.
Dr. Carla van Gils and a team of researchers examined screening performance in the Dutch screening program using a consecutive series of 111,898 digital mammograms from 53,239 women (ages 50-75). Volumetric breast density was automatically assessed using VolparaDensity software.
The study included 667 screen-detected and 234 interval cancers. Of all the tumors, 84.3% were invasive cancers. Mammographic sensitivity was 85.7%, 77.6%, 69.5%, and 61.0% across density categories 1 to 4, respectively. Higher breast density showed a strong linear relationship with all screening performance measures, except for positive predictive value. The rates for recalls, false positives, and total and interval breast cancers were greater in higher breast density categories than in lower density categories.
The group found that a woman was nearly seven times more likely to have an interval cancer if her breasts were extremely dense versus very fatty, and approximately twice as likely to have a false-positive result if her breasts were extremely dense versus very fatty.
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