PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to assess the performance of delayed second reading of screening mammograms when added to real-time reading plus immediate assessment. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The study setting was the mammography screening programme of an Italian Local Health Unit. Recall rate and cancer detection rate at first reading or informed second reading only were assessed in a cohort of 23,629 women aged 50-69 years screened during 2007-2008. Incremental recall rate, incremental cancer detection rate and incremental cost of second reading were determined. RESULTS: Recall rate was 13.0% at first and 2.7% at second reading (incremental recall rate +21.1%). Overall, recalls were more frequent in the younger decade and in the presence of denser breasts. Cancer detection rate was 7.06‰ (n=167) at first and 0.93‰ (n=22) at second reading (incremental cancer detection rate +13.1%). Compared with first reading, second reading detected more cancers depicted as isolated microcalcifications and distortions (40.9% vs. 16.2%, p=0.02) and at a lower stage (stage 0-I 81.8% vs. 69.5%, p=0.34). The cost of adding delayed second reading was + <euro> 3.65 per screened individual or <euro> 3,926.61 per incremental cancer detected. CONCLUSIONS: The study confirms the efficacy of second reading, even as an adjunct to real-time single reading plus immediate assessment. Incremental recall rate is acceptable in view of the incremental cancer detection rate, and both figures are within the range of literature reports on double-reading performance.
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