Full Field Digital Mammography May Miss Interval Breast Cancers

April 6, 2015

Full field digital mammography, performed instead of screen film mammography, finds fewer interval breast cancers.

The switch to full field digital mammography (FFDM) has changed the mammographic presentation of interval breast cancer, with fewer interval cancers presenting in association with microcalcifications, according to a study published in the European Journal of Radiology.

Researchers from Ireland sought to assess the impact of FFDM on the classification of interval breast cancers and to compare the mammographic features of interval cancers at FFDM and screen film mammography (SFM).

The researchers looked at 76 cases of interval breast cancer following FFDM screening and 62 following SFM screening. Five consultant breast radiologists assessed prior screening mammograms. The review classified cases as missed, minimal signs, occult, or true interval breast cancer. Mammographic features of the interval cancer at diagnosis and any abnormality identified on the prior screening mammogram were recorded.

The results showed that there was not much difference between FFDM and SFM for missed cancers, but there were significantly fewer interval cancers presenting as microcalcifications following SFM.

 FFDMSFM
Missed cancers10.5% (8 of 76)8.1% (5 of 62)
Interval cancers16% (12 of 76)32% (20 of 62)

The interval breast cancers did not show up as frequently with FFDM, so this can be problematic, concluded the researchers.