Mammography the “Australian Way” – Why aren’t we doing this in the US?

This post was authored by Brian Nash and posted to The Eye Opener on November 17th, 2010.

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I came across an online article today by Marianne Betts of heraldsun.com.au that there was a problem regarding mammogram reports that had gone out to over 5,000 women who recently had this test performed. There was apparently a breakdown in their review process, which required massive notifications to the women involved.

While this is no doubt very serious business for all concerned, I decided to post this blog for an entirely different reason. I simply was not aware that in Australia, two radiologists read mammograms independent of each other as a normal practice.

A senior radiologist, Professor Jenny Crawson, is quoted as saying that this standard practice of two separate, independent radiology reads (i.e. interpretations) is standard practice in Australia was a “proven success.”

The article goes on to report that with this practice, if both radiologists agree the images are “clear” (no evidence of detectable suspicious lesions/cancer), then the patient is given the “all clear” notification. However, if they disagree, the opinion of a third radiologist is sought.

Dr. Cawson is then quoted to say:

There’s a lot of  scientific evidence that if you have two radiologists reading mammograms you have a higher detection rate of breast cancer than if you have one radiologist.

So it’s a quality assurance mechanism to maximise cancer detection.

Have any of you heard of this practice being followed anywhere else? Anywhere in the United States? Is anyone aware if this program or practice has been studied in the United States or elsewhere in terms of effective higher detection of breast cancers? If we are not doing this (which I’ve never heard of) here in the US, why not? Cost?

I would really like to hear what you know about such a practice.

Image from norwalkradiology.com

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One Response to “Mammography the “Australian Way” – Why aren’t we doing this in the US?”

  1. Brian NashNo Gravatar says:

    In follow-up to this blog, I also came across a report from Business Wire. While the piece references issues relating to “Full Field Digital Mammography combined with the somo•v® Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS) can improve breast cancer detection when compared to Mammography alone in women with dense breast tissue,” it also clearly references that independently performed “double-read” studies are apparently not uncommon in Europe.

    That being said, the issue/question remains: why are we not doing these double-read mammogram studies in the US?

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