Home Family Practice Radiologists Vary Widely on How They Define Dense Breasts

Radiologists Vary Widely on How They Define Dense Breasts

Definition of dense breasts can range from 6.3 to 84.5 percent of patients, depending on radiologist

TUESDAY, July 19, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Radiologists vary widely on how often they define mammography patients’ breasts as dense, according to research published online July 19 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The new study results are based on 216,783 screening mammograms done at 30 facilities between 2011 and 2013. A total of 83 radiologists interpreted the X-rays.

Overall, 36.9 percent of the mammogram results rated as showing dense breasts. But doctors varied widely in how often they made that call. The range went from 6.3 percent of patients to 84.5 percent, the researchers reported. Among women who had two consecutive mammograms read by different radiologists, 17.2 percent had a different density rating on the two tests.

“There is wide variation in density assessment across radiologists that should be carefully considered by providers and policymakers when considering supplemental screening strategies,” the authors write. “The likelihood of a woman being told she has dense breasts varies substantially according to which radiologist interprets her mammogram.”

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