New Digital-Imaging Mammograms Beneficial for Younger Women, Women with Dense Breasts
A large, landmark study has shown that new mammograms that
use digital imaging rather than traditional x-rays to detect cancer are
beneficial for younger women and women whose breasts are more dense. There were
42,670 women participating in the trial, which was funded by the National Cancer
Women under 50 tend to have denser breasts, which make it
more difficult for standard x-rays to penetrate. Digital images, on the other
hand, can magnify areas that look suspicious.
The women in the trial underwent both types of mammograms.
Two radiologists, working independently, reviewed the results. Women with
suspicious findings had biopsies to determine whether cancer was present.
Results showed that the digital mammograms were 15 percent more accurate for
women under 50 than the standard film x-rays. For women over 50, those past
menopause and those who do not have dense breasts, film x-ray was as effective
as digital imaging.
Additional advantages of the digital tests are that they
can be stored on a computer and sent electronically. However, digital
mammography is more expensive, so when it’s necessary to determine who should
receive this type of mammogram, professionals and patients now have some
Online Issue of New England Journal of Medicine,