In mammography screening with double reading, different strategies can be used when the readers give discordant recommendations for referral. We investigated whether the results of the Dutch breast cancer screening programme can be optimised by replacing the standard referral strategy by consensus. Twenty-six screening radiologists independently and blinded to outcome read a test set consisting of previous screening mammograms of 250 cases (screen-detected and interval cancers) and 250 controls. Their referral recommendations were paired and, in case of discrepancy, re-read according to three referral strategies: (1) decision by one of the readers; (2) arbitration by a third reader; (3) referral if both readers agree (consensus). Data allowed studying other referral strategies, including referral if any reader suggests, as well. Double reading with referral if any reader suggests resulted in a 1.03 times higher sensitivity (76.6%) and a 1.31 times higher referral rate (1.26%) than double reading with consensus. To estimate the cost-effectiveness, the outcomes were used in a microsimulation model. Even if double reading with referral if any reader suggests results in four times as high referral rates and an accompanying increase of biopsies or other invasive procedures, the cost-effectiveness of €4,190 per life-year gained may well be in the range of acceptable cost-effectiveness for Dutch health care programmes.

, , , ,,
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Groenewoud, H., Otten, J. D. M., Fracheboud, J., Draisma, G., van Ineveld, B. M., Holland, R., … de Koning, H. (2007). Cost-effectiveness of different reading and referral strategies in mammography screening in the Netherlands. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 102(2), 211–218. doi:10.1007/s10549-006-9319-4