Did you know you can increase cancer detection while still lowering second screenings when it comes to mammography? It may sound a little bit too good to be true, but researchers at the University of Wisconsin are saying ‘Yes!’ They’re looking into a method of screening the results called batch reading. "Experts in the field of breast imaging have long believed that batch reading improves performance and our study provides supportive evidence," said Dr. Elizabeth Burnside, an assistant professor at the university's medical school and chief of mammography at University Hospital in Madison.
When doing batch readings, the research has shown that recalls for ambiguous readings dropped and the cancer detection rate rose – which means earlier detection and less dangerous tumors.
So why aren’t more practices doing it this way? The quick answer is that it’s time consuming. "In batch reading at Georgetown, the 40 or 50 mammograms taken the previous day are hung along with each patient's last study. The room is darkened, and once you enter to begin reading no interruptions are allowed. When you get tired you come out for a break, but otherwise you are left alone until you finish.” says Dr. Makariou, chief of breast imaging at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Batch reading means that one radiologist per day only reads the films while the others work on the daily operations of the practice. The scheduling requires slightly more dexterity and a bit of reorganization, so it can be costly up front, but the cost is nothing compared to the amount of lives that can be saved by switching to this method.