(HealthDay News) — Digital imaging has improved the diagnostic capability of mammograms, although the percentage of false-positives has increased as well, according to a study published online in Radiology.

Brian Sprague, PhD, associate professor of surgery at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, and colleagues used information from 6 registries maintained by the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium, which is funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The investigators evaluated results of 401,548 mammograms, reviewing data from 418 radiologists and 92 radiology facilities. The examinations were conducted in 265,360 women.

The researchers found that 27.5% of the women who had a biopsy had cancer, compared with 31.5% in 2005. The breast cancer detection rate increased to 34.7 per 1,000 diagnostic mammograms from 2007 to 2013, an increase from 25.3 per 1,000 noted in a 2005 report from the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium. The rate at which women had to return for a biopsy increased to 12.6%, compared with 8% in the earlier report.

“Compared with performance during the screen-film mammography era, diagnostic digital performance showed increased abnormal interpretation and cancer detection rates and decreasing positive predictive values (PPVs), with less than 70% of radiologists within acceptable ranges for PPV2 and PPV3,” the authors wrote.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to G.E. Healthcare.


  1. Sprague BL, Arao RF, Miglioretti DL, et al. National Performance Benchmarks for Modern Diagnostic Digital Mammography: Update from the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium. Radiology. 28 February 2017. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2017161519