Changing to core biopsy in an NHS breast screening unit

Clin Radiol. 1997 Oct;52(10):764-7. doi: 10.1016/s0009-9260(97)80156-0.


We recently changed from using fine needle aspiration cytology to using core biopsy exclusively in the assessment of screen detected abnormalities. Two hundred and two biopsies (1% of women screened) were performed. Surgical histological confirmation was obtained in 111 patients (101 malignant and 10 benign). The remaining patients were either returned to standard 3-yearly screening or early repeat screening after 1 year. Analysis of the results was performed in accordance with the standards specified in the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP) Publication Number 22. Absolute sensitivity was 89.3%, complete sensitivity was 93.2%, specificity (including patients undergoing both surgical excision and follow-up) was 88.7%. The predictive value of a positive (malignant) core biopsy result was 100%. The false negative rate was 3.9%. Twelve (5.9%) biopsies were classified inadequate for diagnosis. Core biopsy is a safe and accurate way of assessing screen detected abnormalities and can be used as a substitute for fine needle aspiration cytology with results that exceed the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme target standards, even in the learning phase.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Mass Screening*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • State Medicine
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary
  • United Kingdom