[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article presents the results and observed effects of the UK National Health Service Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP) external quality assurance scheme in breast histopathology.
The major objectives were to monitor and improve the consistency of diagnoses made by pathologists and the quality of prognostic information in pathology reports. The scheme is based on a twice yearly circulation of 12 cases to over 600 registered participants. The level of agreement was generally measured using kappa statistics.
Four main situations were encountered with respect to diagnostic consistency, namely: (1) where consistency is naturally very high-this included diagnosing in situ and invasive carcinomas (and certain distinctive subtypes) and uncomplicated benign lesions; (2) where the level of consistency was low but could be improved by making guidelines more detailed and explicit-this included histological grading; (3) where consistency could be improved but only by changing the system of classification-this included classification of ductal carcinoma in situ; and (4) where no improvement in consistency could be achieved-this included diagnosing atypical hyperplasia and reporting vascular invasion. Size measurements were more consistent for invasive than in situ carcinomas. Even in cases where there is a high level of agreement on tumour size, a few widely outlying measurements were encountered, for which no explanation is readily forthcoming.
These results broadly confirm the robustness of the systems of breast disease diagnosis and classification adopted by the NHSBSP, and also identify areas where improvement or new approaches are required.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The original role of the National Health Service breast screening programme (pathology) external quality assessment (EQA) scheme was educational; it aimed to raise standards, reinforce use of common terminology, and assess the consistency of pathology reporting of breast disease in the UK.
To examine the performance (scores) of pathologists participating in the scheme in recent years. The scheme has evolved to help identify poor performers, reliant upon setting an acceptable cutpoint. Therefore, the effects of different cutpoint strategies were evaluated and implications discussed.
Pathologists who joined the scheme improved over time, particularly those who did less well initially. There was no obvious association between performance and the number of breast cancer cases reported each year. This is not unexpected because the EQA does not measure expertise, but was established to demonstrate a common level of performance (conformity to consensus) for routine cases, rather than the ability to diagnose unusual/difficult cases. A new method of establishing cutpoints using interquartile ranges is proposed. The findings also suggest that EQA can alter a pathologist's practice: those who leave the scheme (for whatever reason) have, on average, marginally lower scores. Consequently, with the cutpoint methodology currently used (which is common to several EQA schemes) there is the potential for the cutpoint to drift upwards. In future, individuals previously deemed competent could subsequently be erroneously labelled as poor performers. Due consideration should be given to this issue with future development of schemes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Routine programme data and specially designed surveys from 3 demonstration sites were analysed to determine the implications of extending the NHS Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP), to include routine invitations for women up to 69 years. All women aged 65-69 and registered with GPs in these areas received routine invitations for breast screening along with those aged 50-64. Overall uptake was 71% in women aged 65-69 compared with 78% in younger women, but was > or = 90% in both groups who had previously attended within 5 years. Recall rates were lower for older women, but with a higher positive predictive value for cancer. The percentages of invasive cancer in different prognostic categories were similar in the 2 age groups. Older women took no longer to screen than younger women. The costs per woman invited or per woman screened were also similar to those for women aged 50-64, whilst the cost per cancer detected was some 34% lower in older women. Breast screening is as cost effective for women aged 65-69 as for those aged 50-64, with a higher cancer detection rate balancing shorter life expectancy. The proposed extension to the national programme will have considerable workforce implications for the NHSBSP and require additional resources.
British Journal of Cancer 11/2001; 85(9):1289-94. DOI:10.1054/bjoc.2001.2047 · 4.84 Impact Factor