Measuring the burden of interval cancers in long-standing screening mammography programmes

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OBJECTIVES: Mammography screening programme sensitivity is evaluated by comparing the interval cancer rate (ICR) with the expected breast cancer incidence without screening, ie. the proportional interval cancer rate (PICR). The PICR is usually found by extrapolating pre-screening incidence rates, whereas ICR is calculated from data available in the screening programmes. As there is no consensus regarding estimation of background incidence, we seek to validate the ICR measure against the PICR.

METHODS: Screening data from the three mammography screening programmes of Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Funen in the period 1989-2011 provided data to calculate the ICR. The most commonly described methods of extrapolating pre-screening incidence rates to calculate the PICR were illustrated and PICRs were calculated by year and programme using these different methods and compared with the ICRs.

RESULTS: PICRs varied greatly, reaching a difference of 32-34% in Stockholm, 79% in Copenhagen, and 100-106% in Funen between the highest and the lowest value, depending on which method was applied. PICRs exhibited large variations yearly and from programme to programme. ICRs did not vary to the same extent, ranging on average from 0.100 to 0.136 in the first 12-months and between 0.201 and 0.225 in the last 12-months of the two-year period after a negative screen across the three programmes.

CONCLUSION: The value of the PICR is hugely influenced by which method is applied, whereas the ICR is calculated purely on data available within programmes. We find that the PICR, the establishing indicator for sensitivity, could preferably be replaced by the ICR.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Screening
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)83-92
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

ID: 135651917