Open Access Research article

Introduction of organised mammography screening in Tyrol: results following first year of complete rollout

Willi Oberaigner123*, Martin Daniaux4, Sabine Geiger-Gritsch1, Rudolf Knapp5, Uwe Siebert2367 and Wolfgang Buchberger28

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Epidemiology of the Tyrolean State Hospitals Ltd., Cancer Registry of Tyrol, Innsbruck, Austria

2 Institute of Public Health, Medical Decision Making and Health Technology Assessment, Department of Public Health and Health Technology Assessment, UMIT - University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Hall i.T., Austria

3 ONCOTYROL - Center for Personalized Cancer Medicine, Innsbruck, Austria

4 Innsbruck Medical University, Department of Radiology, Innsbruck, Austria

5 Kufstein County Hospital, Department of Radiology, Kufstein, Austria

6 Center for Health Decision Science, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

7 Institute for Technology Assessment and Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

8 Tyrolean State Hospitals Ltd., Medical Department, Innsbruck, Austria

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:673  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-673

Published: 30 August 2011



In Tyrol, Austria, the existing system of spontaneous mammography screening was switched in 2007 to an organised program by smoothly changing the established framework. This process followed most EU recommendations for organised mammography screening with the following exceptions: women aged 40-49 are part of the target population, screening is offered annually to the age group 40-59, breast ultrasound is available as an additional diagnostic tool, and double reading has not yet been implemented. After a pilot phase the program was rolled out to all of Tyrol in June 2008. The aim of this study was to analyse the performance of the organised screening system by comparing quality indices and recommended levels given in the well-established EU guidelines.


Working from the results of the pilot phase, we extended the organised mammography system to all counties in Tyrol. All women living in Tyrol and covered by compulsory social insurance were invited for a mammography, in the age group 40-59 annually and in the age group 60-69 biennially. Screening mammography was offered mainly by radiologists in private practice, with further assessment performed at hospitals. Using the screening database, all well-established performance indicators were analysed and compared with accepted/desired levels as per the EU guidelines.


From June 2008 to May 2009, 120,440 women were invited. Per 1000 mammograms, 14 women were recalled for further assessment, nine underwent biopsy and four cancer cases were detected. Of invasive breast cancer cases, 32.3% and 68.4% were ≤ 10 mm and ≤ 15 mm in size, respectively, and 79.2% were node-negative. The positive predictive value for further assessment and for biopsy was 25.9% and 39.9%, respectively. Estimated two-year participation rate was 57.0%. In total, 14 interval cancer cases were detected during one year of follow-up; this is 18.4% of the background incidence rate.


In Tyrol, Austria, an organised mammography screening program was implemented in a smooth transition from an existing spontaneous screening system and was completely rolled out within a short time. The high level of performance already seen in the pilot phase was maintained after rollout, and improvements resulting from the pilot phase were affirmed after one year of complete rollout.