Can new technology improve breast screening accuracy?


For many women, their annual mammogram is an essential preventative test – yet standard screening, such as mammography, can have limitations with regard to accuracy, particularly for women with dense breasts. Studies suggest that among women who undergo an annual screening mammography over a 10-year period, around half will be given at least one false-positive result, with around 1,000 women subsequently undergoing a biopsy(1).

The adoption of new technologies, such as digital breast tomosynthesis, breast MR and breast ultrasound are helping to change that. Recent data presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium showed that, in women with dense breasts, more lesions were diagnosed when ultrasound screening was conducted in conjunction with mammography, compared with mammography alone2

How can new technologies support radiologists?
In recent research by MarkeTech, radiologists rated the perception of subtle cancers and the detection of early phase cancers as their biggest challenges. Improvements in screening techniques, and the introduction of these new modalities, have a role to play in supporting radiologists to feel more confident in their reads, first time, without the need for further interventions. 

Imaging systems that combine a range of modalities in one (such as mammography, breast MR and breast ultrasound) can increase radiologists’ efficiency and comfort. As the MarkeTech research also showed, creating a more comfortable reading experience also contributes to radiologist productivity and accuracy3

Seeing into the future of mammography
To reduce the incidence of false-negative and false-positive readings, within an environment of growing demand and complexity, radiologists need to be supported with better modalities, such as digital breast tomosynthesis, breast MR and breast ultrasound, that provide the clarity of imaging and improve efficiency in the work environment. 

Health services must invest in these new technologies in order to prevent the unnecessary cost of further investigation and/or intervention, in addition to the distress felt by women due to false-negative/positive readings.

[1] Pace LE, Keating NL: A systematic assessment of benefits and risks to guide breast cancer screening decisions. JAMA 311 (13); 1327-35, 2014


[2] Weigert JM. The Connecticut experiment: 4 years of screening women with dense breasts with bilateral ultrasound. Presented at: 2014 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; December 9-13, 2014; San Antonio, Texas. Abstract [S5-01]. - See more at:


[3] MarkeTech 2014. Last accessed December 2014.