Variability of postsurgical imaging surveillance of breast cancer patients: A nationwide survey study

Bhavika K. Patel, Cindy S. Lee, Heidi E. Kosiorek, Mary S. Newell, Victor J. Pizzitola, Carl J. D'Orsi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. Because of observed clinical variance and the discretion of referring physicians and radiologists in patient follow-up, the purpose of this study was to conduct a survey to explore whether broad discrepancy exists in imaging protocols used for postsurgical surveillance. SUBJECTS AND METHODS. An online survey was created to assess radiologists' use of diagnostic versus screening mammography for women with a personal history of breast cancer and determine whether the choice of protocol was associated with practice characteristics (setting, region, and reader type). RESULTS. Of 8170 surveys sent, 849 (10%) completed responses were returned. Seventy-nine percent of respondents recommended initial diagnostic mammography after lumpectomy (65% at 6 months, 14% at 12 months); 49% recommended diagnostic surveillance for up to 2 years before a return to screening mammography; and 33% continued diagnostic surveillance for 2–5 years before returning to screening. For imaging after mastectomy, 57% of respondents recommended diagnostic mammography of the unaffected breast. Among the 57%, however, 37% recommended diagnostic screening for only the first postmastectomy follow-up evaluation, and the other 20% permanently designated patients for diagnostic mammography after mastectomy. CONCLUSION. The optimal surveillance mammography regimen must be better defined. This preliminary study showed variability in diagnostic versus screening surveillance mammography for women with a history of breast cancer. Future studies should evaluate why these variations occur and how to standardize recommendations to tailor personalized imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-227
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Diagnostic mammography
  • Postlumpectomy screening
  • Screening mammography
  • Surveillance mammography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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