Viewing prior mammograms in association with current mammograms significantly improves radiologist performance and may decrease unnecessary recalls by up to 44 percent, according to a study in the January issue of Radiology.
For the study, 12 experienced screening radiologists studied 160 mammograms to retrospectively determine the influence of comparing current mammograms with prior mammograms on breast cancer detection in screening and to investigate a protocol in which prior mammograms are viewed only when deemed necessary by the radiologist.
The results showed that without prior mammograms, many more suspicious findings were noted. Reading performance was significantly better when prior screening mammograms were available. The 12 radiologists reported 1,935 findings when prior mammograms were unavailable, for an average of 1.01 findings per case per radiologist. When prior mammograms were available, 1,715 findings were reported, for an average of 0.89. The total number of localized lesions detected without and with prior mammograms was 636 and 672, respectively.