Cost-effectiveness of double reading versus single reading of mammograms in a breast cancer screening programme

Margarita Posso, Misericòrdia Carles, Montserrat Rué, Teresa Puig, Xavier Bonfill

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17 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Posso et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Objectives: The usual practice in breast cancer screening programmes for mammogram interpretation is to perform double reading. However, little is known about its cost-effectiveness in the context of digital mammography. Our purpose was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of double reading versus single reading of digital mammograms in a population-based breast cancer screening programme. Methods: Data from 28,636 screened women was used to establish a decision-tree model and to compare three strategies: 1) double reading; 2) double reading for women in their first participation and single reading for women in their subsequent participations; and 3) single reading. We calculated the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), which was defined as the expected cost per one additionally detected cancer. We performed a deterministic sensitivity analysis to test the robustness of the ICER. Results: The detection rate of double reading (5.17‰) was similar to that of single reading (4.78‰; P = .768). The mean cost of each detected cancer was €8,912 for double reading and €8,287 for single reading. The ICER of double reading versus single reading was €16,684. The sensitivity analysis showed variations in the ICER according to the sensitivity of reading strategies. The strategy that combines double reading in first participation with single reading in subsequent participations was ruled out due to extended dominance. Conclusions: From our results, double reading appears not to be a cost-effective strategy in the context of digital mammography. Double reading would eventually be challenged in screening programmes, as single reading might entail important net savings without significantly changing the cancer detection rate. These results are not conclusive and should be confirmed in prospective studies that investigate long-term outcomes like quality adjusted life years (QALYs).
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0159806
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


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