Digital breast tomosynthesis continues to evolve. First introduced initially as a problem-solving tool in breast imaging, DBT is becoming the workhorse modality for breast screening as well.
But DBT still requires some adjustment when used for screening. In a study of nearly 15k women in European Radiology, Swedish researchers describe how the false-positive recall rate for DBT cancer screening started higher but then fell over time as radiologists got used to the appearance of lesions on DBT exams.
The Malmö Breast Tomosynthesis Screening Trial was set up to compare one-view DBT to two-view digital mammography for breast screening. Unlike some DBT screening trials, the study did not use synthesized 2D DBT images. DBT images were acquired 2010-2015 with Siemens Healthineers’ Mammomat Inspiration system.
Findings in the study included:
- DBT had a sharply higher false-positive recall rate in year 1 of the study compared to DM (2.6% vs. 0.5%)
- DBT’s recall rate fell over the five-year course of the study, stabilizing at 1.5%
- Recall rates for DM varied between 0.5% and 1% over five years
- Most of the DBT recalls (37.3%) were for stellate lesions, in which spicules radiate out from a central point or mass. With DM, only 24.0% of recalls were for stellate lesions
- The number of stellate distortions being recalled with DBT declined over time, a trend the authors attributed to a learning curve in reading DBT images
The authors said that the DBT false-positive recall rate in their study was “in general low” compared to other European trials. They claimed that MBTST is among the first studies to analyze recall rates by lesion appearance, an important point because radiologists may see a different distribution of lesion types on screening DBT compared to what they’re used to with DM.
The Malmö Breast Tomosynthesis Screening Trial was one of the first to investigate DBT for breast screening, and previous MBTST research showed that DBT can also reduce interval cancers, which occur between screening rounds.
The new findings offer further support for DBT breast screening and give hope that whatever shortcomings the technology might have early on in a screening role can be addressed through training and experience. It also confirms recent research indicating that DBT has become the new gold standard for breast screening.