Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Radiology. 2006 Sep;240(3):666-73.

Bayesian network to predict breast cancer risk of mammographic microcalcifications and reduce number of benign biopsy results: initial experience.

Author information

  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, E3/311 Clinical Science Center, 600 Highland Ave, Madison, WI 53792-3252, USA.



To retrospectively determine whether a Bayesian network (BN) computer model can accurately predict the probability of breast cancer on the basis of risk factors and mammographic appearance of microcalcifications, to improve the positive predictive value (PPV) of biopsy, with pathologic examination and follow-up as reference standards.


The institutional review board approved this HIPAA-compliant study; informed consent was not required. Results of 111 consecutive image-guided breast biopsies performed for microcalcifications deemed suspicious by radiologists were analyzed. Mammograms obtained before biopsy were analyzed in a blinded manner by a breast imager who recorded Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) descriptors and provided a probability of malignancy. The BN uses probabilistic relationships between breast disease and mammography findings to estimate the risk of malignancy. Probability estimates from the radiologist and the BN were used to create receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves, and area under the ROC curve (A(z)) values were compared. PPV of biopsy was also evaluated on the basis of these probability estimates.


The BN and the radiologist achieved A(z) values of 0.919 and 0.916, respectively, which were not significantly different. If the 34 patients estimated by the BN to have less than a 10% probability of malignancy had not undergone biopsy, the PPV of biopsy would have increased from 21.6% to 31.2% without missing a breast cancer (P < .001). At this level, the radiologist's probability estimation improved the PPV to 30.0% (P < .001).


A probabilistic model that includes BI-RADS descriptors for microcalcifications can distinguish between benign and malignant abnormalities at mammography as well as a breast imaging specialist can and may be able to improve the PPV of image-guided breast biopsy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon
    Loading ...
    Support Center