Open Access Research article

Introduction of organised mammography screening in tyrol: results of a one-year pilot phase

Willi Oberaigner123*, Wolfgang Buchberger24, Thomas Frede5, Martin Daniaux5, Rudolf Knapp6, Christian Marth7 and Uwe Siebert2389

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, Information Systems 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 Medical Director, TILAK, Innsbruck, Austria

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

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

7 Innsbruck Medical University, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Innsbruck, Austria

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

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

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:91  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-91

Published: 9 February 2011



Efficiency and efficacy of organised mammography screening programs have been proven in large randomised trials. But every local implementation of mammography screening has to check whether the well established quality standards are met. Therefore it was the aim of this study to analyse the most common quality indices after introducing organised mammography screening in Tyrol, Austria, in a smooth transition from the existing system of opportunistic screening.


In June 2007, the system of opportunistic mammography screening in Tyrol was changed to an organised system by introducing a personal invitation system, a training program, a quality assurance program and by setting up a screening database. All procedures are noted in a written protocol. Most EU recommendations for organised mammography screening were followed, except double reading. All women living in Tyrol and covered by social insurance are now invited for a mammography, in age group 40-59 annually and in age group 60-69 biannually. Screening mammography is offered mainly by radiologists in private practice. We report on the results of the first year of piloting organised mammography screening in two counties in Tyrol.


56,432 women were invited. Estimated participation rate was 34.5% at one year of follow-up (and 55.5% at the second year of follow-up); 3.4% of screened women were recalled for further assessment or intermediate screening within six months. Per 1000 mammograms nine biopsies were performed and four breast cancer cases detected (N = 68). Of invasive breast cancer cases 34.4% were ≤ 10 mm in size and 65.6% were node-negative. In total, six interval cancer cases were detected during one year of follow-up; this is 19% of the background incidence rate.


In the Tyrolean breast cancer screening program, a smooth transition from a spontaneous to an organised mammography screening system was achieved in a short time and with minimal additional resources. One year after introduction of the screening program, most of the quality indicators recommended by the European guidelines had been reached.

However, it will be necessary to introduce double reading, to change the rule for BI-RADS 3, and to concentrate on actions toward improving the participation rate.