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A preliminary report on the role of spatial frequency analysis in the perception of breast cancers missed at mammography screening.

Academic Radiology 2004 August
RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: Because several factors are involved in cancer detection, a malignant lesion that is visible on a mammogram will not necessarily be reported by the radiologist reading the case. Indeed, a significant fraction of screening-detected cancers are visible in retrospect, and were perceived by the radiologist when the case was read, but were either reported as benign findings or dismissed as variations of normal breast tissue. In this preliminary report the spatial frequency characteristics of clinically missed lesions are investigated by analyzing the mammogram acquired when the lesion was sent for biopsy and the most recent prior mammogram. For control purposes, the contralateral breast is also analyzed, when this breast is lesion free.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A database of 70 mammogram cases was assembled. Each case contained eight films: craniocaudal (CC) and mediolateral oblique (MLO) of the breast where a biopsy-proven lesion was found, CC and MLO of the contralateral breast, and CC and MLO of both breasts in the most recent prior mammogram. The dictated reports for all of these cases were obtained. Both benign and malignant lesions were used. The films were digitized and an region of interest surrounding each lesion was segmented from the image for processing using wavelet packets to extract spatial frequency information. The corresponding area was also segmented from the prior mammogram and from the contralateral breast, when this breast was lesion-free. Analysis of variance was used to determine if statistically significant differences existed between the derived features of cancer in the current and prior mammograms.

RESULTS: The data suggests that malignant lesions reported in the prior mammogram as being benign differed from correctly reported malignant lesions and from correctly reported benign lesions. They also differed from nonreported malignant lesions. In addition, the spatial frequency representation of cancer significantly differed in the current and prior cases from the representation of normal breast tissue.

CONCLUSION: Spatial frequency analysis may be useful to differentiate malignant lesions that are reported as benign and correctly reported benign lesions.

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