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Tomo associated with fewer false positives than digital mammo, study finds

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | February 15, 2018
Rad Oncology Women's Health
To be presented at
ARRS annual meeting
The use of diagnostic digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) significantly reduces the rate of false positive exams, according to a new study to be presented at the American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting in April.

It’s already known that DBT has this effect in the screening setting, but until now research was scant on its impact in the diagnostic setting.

A team at Harvard University’s Massachusetts General Hospital compared consecutive diagnostic digital mammography (DM) from August 2008 to February 2011 with diagnostic DBT exams from January 2013 to July 2015. False positive exams were defined as no known tissue diagnosis of breast cancer up to one year after the positive exam.

They found that the false positive rate was much lower and the cancer detection rate was significantly higher in the DBT group compared to the DM group. They concluded that the integration of DBT can potentially result in higher quality, lower costs and fewer unnecessary biopsies.

False positives are important to consider because they have been shown to deter women from getting screened. A study published in February in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that patients with a true negative exam were 36 percent more likely to have a subsequent screen in the next three years than those with a false positive.

In addition to that, DBT is actually more affordable than DM. A study presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in December found DBT is less expensive than DM when diagnosis-related costs are considered.

DBT has higher upfront costs than DM, but it is a more effective screening method, since it’s associated with a lower false positive rate and higher true negative rate. There was also no notable difference between patients who received DBT or DM in costs within the diagnosis or cancer treatment windows.

The new study will be presented by Charmi Vijapura at the ARRS 2018 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC .

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