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Digital mammography not better than film for all women

Jul 2006
Digital imaging devices for mammography have been approved for use for more than five years but have penetrated the total market by less than 10 percent. Holding them back from more widespread use has been their cost and some technical issues, but new data shows that there is no clear advantage to using digital imaging versus traditional film.

In a review of the results of the digital mammography imaging screening trial, Dr. D. David Dershaw of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York compares the technical and clinical data regarding both film and digital technologies.

He noted that several subgroups of patients in the trial, including women less than 50 years old, who are pre- or perimenopausal, or who have denser breast tissue, had better results with digital imaging than with film. Furthermore, women with opposite characteristics seemed to have better results with film-based mammography. However, there is no data so far that enables comparison of different brands of digital mammography equipment.

The author describes the advantages and disadvantages of film and digital imaging techniques, the roles of image display and interpretation, clinical experiences with digital and film equipment, and possible future applications of digital mammography technology. He argues that women should primarily consider the quality of a facility’s mammography service — not which technology it uses — when choosing where to go for testing. And those women whose facility offers both services should seek advice on which imaging technology is better suited for them. (The Breast Journal, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 99-102.)

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