Screening mammography: do women prefer a higher recall rate given the possibility of earlier detection of cancer?

Radiology. 2006 Mar;238(3):793-800. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2383050852.


Purpose: To prospectively survey women undergoing screening mammography to assess their attitudes toward and preference for the level of recall rates given the possibility that an increase in recall rates may result in earlier detection of cancer.

Materials and methods: This HIPAA-compliant survey was performed with an institutional review board-approved protocol. Women who arrived for their routine screening mammographic examination from November 2004 to March 2005 were informed before they consented to participate. The distribution of responses for each survey question was summarized, and proportions for the entire group and different subgroups were computed. The z score statistic was used to assess significant differences between subgroups.

Results: Fifteen hundred seventy anonymized questionnaires were collected; 1171 (75%) were from women between 40 and 59 years of age. Of 1528 respondents, 1486 (97%) believed that a false-positive result would not deter them from continuing with regular screening, and most would have been willing to be recalled more often for either a noninvasive (86% [1308 of 1519 respondents]) or an invasive (82% [1248 of 1515 respondents]) procedure if it might increase the chance of detecting a cancer (if present) earlier. Compared with respondents undergoing their initial screening mammographic examination, women who had undergone at least one prior screening examination reported that they were more likely to continue with screening if they had received a previous false-positive result (P = .02). Women younger than 60 years and those previously recalled were more willing to be called back more often for a noninvasive or, when indicated, an invasive procedure (P < .05).

Conclusion: A substantial fraction of women in this study would have preferred the inconvenience of and anxiety associated with a higher recall rate if it resulted in the possibility of detecting breast cancer earlier.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography*
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires