Comparison of Outcomes for One-View Asymmetries Recalled From Digital Breast Tomosynthesis Versus Full-Field Digital Mammography Screening Examinations

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2022 Nov;219(5):724-733. doi: 10.2214/AJR.22.27820. Epub 2022 Jun 15.


BACKGROUND. Recall rates are lower for digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) than for full-field digital mammography (FFDM). This difference could have important implications with respect to one-view asymmetries given that missed cancers are often visible on one view. OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study is to compare the outcomes of one-view asymmetries recalled from DBT versus FFDM screening examinations and to determine predictors of malignancy among recalled asymmetries. METHODS. This retrospective study first determined recall rates associated with one-view asymmetries for screening mammography performed using DBT and FFDM from July 14, 2016, through July 14, 2020. Further analyses included patients recalled for a one-view asymmetry who completed subsequent diagnostic workup and all recommended follow-up. Patient and cancer characteristics were extracted from the electronic health record. RESULTS. The recall rate associated with asymmetries was lower for DBT screening (2.5% [3169/128,755]) than for FFDM screening (3.4% [815/23,898]) (p < .001). Further analyses of patients who completed diagnostic workup and subsequent follow-up included 3119 patients (mean age, 57 years) for DBT screening and 811 patients (mean age, 56 years) for FFDM screening. Distribution of final BI-RADS categories from subsequent diagnostic workup was not different between the two modalities (p > .99). The frequency of malignancy was not different between asymmetries recalled from DBT (1.7% [54/3119]) and FFDM (1.7% [14/811]) (p > .99). Malignant asymmetries identified on FFDM versus DBT were more frequently associated with architectural distortion on diagnostic workup (35.7% [5/14] vs 9.3% [5/54]) (p < .001) and were more commonly invasive ductal carcinoma (92.9% vs 57.4%) and less commonly invasive lobular carcinoma (0.0% vs 24.1%) (p = .05). In multivariable analysis, independent predictors of malignancy among recalled asymmetries from DBT were age (for 55-69 years, odds ratio [OR] = 2.40 [p = .04]; for ≥ 70 years, OR = 7.93 [p < .001]; reference, < 55 years) and breast density (not dense, OR = 2.47 [p = .001]; reference, dense breasts). CONCLUSION. Recalled asymmetries were less frequent for DBT than for FFDM. The malignancy rate was low for both modalities (1.7%). Age 55 years old and older and lower breast density predicted malignancy for DBT-recalled asymmetries. CLINICAL IMPACT. Our results support the use of DBT to reduce unnecessary recalls without altering PPV for asymmetry-associated malignancies. Patient factors should be considered when assessing whether a potential asymmetry on DBT screening represents overlapping fibroglandular tissue or a suspicious finding that requires diagnostic workup.

Keywords: breast asymmetry; breast neoplasm; digital breast tomosynthesis; recall; screening mammography.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Density
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography* / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies