Guidelines for monitoring breast cancer screening program performance

Discover consistent methods for evaluating breast cancer screening programs over time, including targets and approaches for detailed calculations

The principal goal of breast cancer screening is to reduce illness and breast cancer deaths. The benefits of breast cancer screening are gradual and, as a result, effectiveness can’t be measured only by a reduced number of breast cancer deaths. Evaluation indicators must consider the screening program’s benefits and disadvantages, as well as what data is reliable and able to be collected. The indicators also offer an approach to monitor the individual parts of screening to make sure that a successful program’s short-term goals keep being met.

Evaluation indicators

The following indicators are used at the national level for ongoing evaluation of organized breast cancer screening:

  • Participation rate
  • Retention rate
  • Annual screening rate
  • Abnormal call rate
  • Cancer detection rate
  • Diagnostic interval
  • Positive predictive value (PPV) of the screening mammography program
  • Non-malignant biopsy rate
  • Invasive tumour size
  • Nodal status
  • Post-screen cancer rate
  • Sensitivity of the screening mammography program

The indicators presented in this 2013 document were created according to recognized population screening principles, a comparison with international standards, the experiences of Canadian professionals working in breast cancer screening programs, evidence from randomized controlled trials, demonstration projects and observational studies.

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