Differences in radiological patterns, tumour characteristics and diagnostic precision between digital mammography and screen-film mammography in four breast cancer screening programmes in Spain
Objectives To compare tumour characteristics between cancers detected with screen-film mammography (SFM) and digital mammography (DM) and to evaluate changes in positive predictive values (PPVs) for further assessments, for invasive procedures and for distinct radiological patterns in recalled women. Methods 242,838 screening mammograms (171,191 SFM and 71,647 DM) from 103,613 women aged 45-69 years, performed in four population-based breast cancer screening programmes in Spain, were included. The tumour characteristics and PPVs of each group were compared. Radiological patterns (masses, calcifications, distortions and asymmetries) among recalled women were described and PPVs were evaluated. Results The percentages of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) were higher in DM than in SFM both in the first [18.5% vs. 15.8%(p = 0.580)] and in successive screenings [23.2% vs. 15.7%(p = 0.115)]. PPVs for masses, asymmetries and calcifications were higher in DM, being statistically significant in masses (5.3% vs. 3.9%; proportion ratio: 1.37 95%CI: 1.08-1.72). Among cancers detected by calcifications, the percentage of DCIS was higher in DM (60.3% vs. 46.4%, p = 0.060). Conclusions PPVs were higher when DM was used, both for further assessments and for invasive procedures, with similar cancer detection rates and no statistically significant differences in tumour characteristics. The greatest improvements in PPVs were found for masses.
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