Lead author Christoph I. Lee, M.D., a professor of radiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, stated that “this is good news for women and breast cancer screening, as digital breast tomosynthesis has quickly become the most popular breast cancer screening modality in the U.S.”
DBT gained FDA approval in 2011 and has since been rapidly adopted in the U.S., with 84% of all mammography screening facilities now equipped with DBT units as of September 2022. Breast cancer mortality reduction from routine screening is dependent on radiologists’ interpretive performance, and since 1992, screening facilities and interpreting radiologists have been required to meet minimum quality standards.
To establish performance benchmarks for DBT screening and evaluate performance trends over time in U.S. community practices, the research team collected DBT screening exams from five Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) registries between 2011 and 2018. Performance measures included abnormal interpretation rate, cancer detection rate, sensitivity, specificity, and false-negative rate.
Compared to BCSC digital mammography screening exams from the same time period and previously published BCSC and National Mammography Database performance benchmarks, all performance measures were higher for DBT. This suggests that DBT is a more effective screening tool for detecting invasive breast cancers, and radiologists’ interpretive performance is improved with DBT.
The study’s findings are promising for women undergoing breast cancer screening in community practice settings, as DBT’s widespread adoption and improved performance measures can lead to earlier detection and better outcomes for patients. With continued research and advancements in breast cancer screening technology, the medical community can work towards reducing breast cancer mortality rates and improving patient care.