Effects of digital mammography uptake on downstream breast-related care among older women.
Digital mammography is the dominant modality for breast cancer screening in the United States. No previous studies have investigated as to how introducing digital mammography affects downstream breast-related care.
Compare breast-related health care use after a screening mammogram before and after introduction of digital mammography.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND SUBJECTS:
Longitudinal study of screening mammograms from 14 radiology facilities contributing data to the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium performed 1 year before and 4 years after each facility introduced digital mammography, along with linked Medicare claims. We included 30,211 mammograms for women aged 66 years and older without breast cancer.
Rates of false-positive recall and short-interval follow-up were based on radiologists’ assessments and recommendations; rates of follow-up mammography, ultrasound, and breast biopsy use were based on Medicare claims.
False-positive recall rates increased after the introduction of digital mammography. Follow-up mammography use was significantly higher across all 4 years after a facility began using digital mammography compared with the year before [year 1 odds ratio (OR) = 1.7, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.4-2.1]. Among women with false-positive mammography results, use of ultrasound decreased significantly in the second through fourth years after digital mammography began (year 2 OR = 0.4, 95% CI, 0.3-0.6).
Introduction of a new technology led to changes in health care use that persisted for at least 4 years. Comparative effectiveness research on new technologies should consider not only diagnostic performance but also downstream utilization attributable to this apparent learning curve.