Fewer recalls associated with higher rates of interval breast cancers

OAK BROOK, Ill. – Lower screening mammography recall rates — the rates at which women are called back for additional testing based on suspicious findings — are associated with higher rates of breast cancers detected between screenings, or interval cancers, according to a major new study published online in the journal Radiology. Researchers said the study shows that establishing a minimum recall rate is a reasonable and potentially important goal for breast cancer screening programs.

Recall for additional testing after mammography is an important safeguard against missing invasive breast cancers, but the practice carries costs, including anxiety for the patient and additional expenses to the healthcare system. In order to minimize these costs, breast cancer screening programs routinely specify maximum recall rates after screening mammography.

The U.K. has established a maximum recall rate target of less than 7 percent for a patient’s first screening, also known as a prevalent screen, and less than 5 percent for incident screens, or those in which previous screening results exist. However, no such consensus exists as to a minimum recall rate, below which additional cancers would be missed.

To learn more about the potential trade-offs between lower recall rates and interval cancers, Elizabeth


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