Maintaining quality in the UK breast screening program
2010-06-02T15:45:22Z (GMT) by
Breast screening in the UK has been implemented for over 20 years and annually nearly two million women are now screened with an estimated 1,400 lives saved. Nationally, some 700 individuals interpret screening mammograms in almost 110 screening centres. Currently, women aged 50 to 70 are invited for screening every three years and by 2012 this age range will increase to 47 - 73 years. There is a rapid ongoing transition from using film mammograms to full field digital mammography such that in 2010 every screening centre will be partly digital. An early, and long running, concern has been how to ensure the highest quality of imaging interpretation across the UK, an issue enhanced by the use of a three year screening interval. To partly address this question a self assessment scheme was developed in 1988 and subsequently implemented nationally in the UK as a virtually mandatory activity. The scheme is detailed from its beginnings, through its various developments to current incarnation and future plans. This encompasses both radiological (single view screening, two view screening, mammographic film and full field digital mammography) as well as design changes (cases reported by means of: form filling; PDA; tablet PC; iPhone, and the internet). The scheme provides a rich data source which is regularly studied to examine different aspects of radiological performance. Overall it aids screening radiologists by giving them regular access to a range of difficult exemplar cases together with feedback on their performance as compared to their peers.