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Muttarak M, Pojchamarnwiputh S, Chaiwun B
Correspondence: Prof Malai Muttarak, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction Mammography has proven to be an effective modality for the detection of early breast carcinoma. However, 4-34 percent of breast cancers may be missed at mammography. Delayed diagnosis of breast carcinoma results in an unfavourable prognosis. The objective of this study was to determine the causes and characteristics of breast carcinomas missed by mammography at our institution, with the aim of reducing the rate of missed carcinoma.
Methods We reviewed the reports of 13,191 mammograms performed over a five-year period. Breast Imaging Reporting and Data Systems (BI-RADS) were used for the mammographical assessment, and reports were cross-referenced with the histological diagnosis of breast carcinoma. Causes of missed carcinomas were classified.
Results Of 344 patients who had breast carcinoma and had mammograms done prior to surgery, 18 (5.2 percent) failed to be diagnosed by mammography. Of these, five were caused by dense breast parenchyma obscuring the lesions, 11 were due to perception and interpretation errors, and one each from unusual lesion characteristics and poor positioning.
Conclusion Several factors, including dense breast parenchyma obscuring a lesion, perception error, interpretation error, unusual lesion characteristics, and poor technique or positioning, are possible causes of missed breast cancers.
Keywords: breast cancer, mammography, missed diagnosis
Singapore Med J 2006; 47(10): 851-857