The time course of cancer detection performance

The purpose of this study was to measure how mammography readers' performance varies with time of day and time spent reading. This was investigated in screening practice and when reading an enriched case set. In screening practice records of time and date that each case was read, along with outcome (whether the woman was recalled for further tests, and biopsy results where performed) was extracted from records from one breast screening centre in UK (4 readers). Patterns of performance with time spent reading was also measured using an enriched test set (160 cases, 41% malignant, read three times by eight radiologists). Recall rates varied with time of day, with different patterns for each reader. Recall rates decreased as the reading session progressed both when reading the enriched test set and in screening practice. Further work is needed to expand this work to a greater number of breast screening centres, and to determine whether these patterns of performance over time can be used to optimize overall performance.