Interpreting screening mammograms is a difficult repetitive task that can result in missed cancers and false-positive recalls. In the United Kingdom, 2 film readers independently evaluate each mammogram to search for signs of cancer and examine digital mammograms in batches. However, a vigilance decrement (reduced detection rate with time on task) has been observed in similar settings.
To determine the effect of changing the order for the second film reader of batches of screening mammograms on rates of breast cancer detection.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS
A multicenter, double-blind, cluster randomized clinical trial conducted at 46 specialized breast screening centers from the National Health Service Breast Screening Program in England for 1 year (all between December 20, 2012, and November 3, 2014). Three hundred sixty readers participated (mean, 7.8 readers per center)—186 radiologists, 143 radiography advanced practitioners, and 31 breast clinicians, all fully qualified to report mammograms in the NHS breast screening program.
The 2 readers examined each batch of digital mammograms in the same order in the control group and in the opposite order to one another in the intervention group.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES
The primary outcomewas cancer detection rate; secondary outcomes were rates of recall and disagreements between readers.
Among 1 194 147 women (mean age, 59.3; SD, 7.49) who had screening mammograms (596 642 in the intervention group; 597 505 in the control group), the images were interpreted in 37 688 batches (median batch size, 35; interquartile range [IQR]; 16-46), with each reader interpreting a median of 176 batches (IQR, 96-278). After completion of all subsequent diagnostic tests, a total of 10 484 cases (0.88%) of breast cancer were detected. There was no significant difference in cancer detection rate with 5272 cancers (0.88%) detected in the intervention group vs 5212 cancers (0.87%) detected in the control group (difference, 0.01% points; 95%CI, −0.02%to 0.04%points; recall rate, 24 681 [4.14%] vs 24 894 [4.17%]; difference, −0.03%points; 95%CI, −0.10% to 0.04%points; or rate of reader disagreements, 20 471 [3.43%] vs 20 793 [3.48%]; difference, −0.05%points; 95%CI, −0.11% to 0.02%points).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
Interpretation of batches of mammograms by qualified screening mammography readers using a different order vs the same order for the second reading resulted in no significant difference in rates of detection of breast cancer.