Mammographers' perception of women's breast cancer risk

Joseph R. Egger, Gary R. Cutter, Patricia A. Carney, Stephen H. Taplin, William E. Barlow, R. Edward Hendrick, Carl J. D'Orsi, Jessica S. Fosse, Linn Abraham, Joann G. Elmore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective. To understand mammographers' perception of individual women's breast cancer risk. Materials and Methods. Radiologists interpreting screening mammography examinations completed a mailed survey consisting of questions pertaining to demographic and clinical practice characteristics, as well as 2 vignettes describing different risk profiles of women. Respondents were asked to estimate the probability of a breast cancer diagnosis in the next 5 years for each vignette. Vignette responses were plotted against mean recall rates in actual clinical practice. Results. The survey was returned by 77% of eligible radiologists. Ninety-three percent of radiologists overestimated risk in the vignette involving a 70-year-old woman; 96% overestimated risk in the vignette involving a 41-year-old woman. Radiologists who more accurately estimated breast cancer risk were younger, worked full-time, were affiliated with an academic medical center, had fellowship training, had fewer than 10 years experience interpreting mammograms, and worked more than 40% of the time in breast imaging. However, only age was statistically significant. No association was found between radiologists' risk estimate and their recall rate. Conclusion. U.S. radiologists have a heightened perception of breast cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-289
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Decision Making
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Perception
  • Pretest probability
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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