A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute says that the accuracy of your mammogram may depend on who reads it. The study examined how well 123 radiologists interpreted almost 36,000 diagnostic mammograms. The radiologists were chosen from different parts of the country and their accuracy ranged from 100 percent to as low as 27 percent. The study says the difference is not based on geography but on experience.
Dr. Alice Rim, a Radiologist at the Cleveland Clinic said, "In this study it does show that when you have a majority of your time spent doing breast imaging and you have a lot of experience doing so, and maybe even some specialized training it, you do have a better sensitivity in catching these cancers."
The most accurate readings were those done by radiologists who spend most of their time reading breast images. The study does not suggest that it is acceptable to skip a mammogram; instead it gives patients even more reason to make sure that they get that mammogram on a regular basis every year.
This study looked at diagnostic mammograms on women who had some symptoms and women with no symptoms, and those results can vary as well. However, doctors say regular screening mammography after age 40 remains the best tool in fighting breast cancer.