$3.2 million NIH grant aims to correct diagnostic errors for breast cancer

Breast Cancer Ribbon

In a new UCLA-led study, funded by a $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, researchers will examine how perception and cognition interact in the interpretation of breast biopsy images. The aim is to improve physicians’ diagnostic skills and accuracy.

Dr. Joann Elmore, a UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center member and professor of medicine in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is leading the five-year project, which will study diagnostic errors made by residents in training as well as experienced pathologists.

“Pathologists want to be better at their job and find every suspicious lesion, but when they do make errors, it can be hard to know why,” said Elmore, who is also director of the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program. “This project will use advanced eye-tracking techniques that measure exactly where the pathologist was looking during each case so that we can determine what is leading to diagnostic errors.”

Elmore’s previous research has identified high levels of disagreement and errors among physicians in the diagnosis of cancer.