The National Cancer Institute has announced that new computerized type of mammography is better in detecting cancer in younger women than the old-fashioned film mammogram:
Preliminary results from a large, clinical trial of digital vs. film mammography show no difference in detecting breast cancer for the general population of women in the trial. However, those women with dense breasts, who are pre- or perimenopausal (women who had a last menstrual period within 12 months of their mammograms), or who are younger than age 50 may benefit from having a digital rather than a film mammogram. The results were reported September 16, 2005 in a special online publication of the New England Journal of Medicine…
“This digital mammography study demonstrates how new technologies are expanding our ability to detect breast cancer earlier in more women. The study corroborates NCI’s commitment to exploring advanced technologies in a wide range of clinical applications and the critical role they can play in making cancer a manageable disease,” said NCI Director Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D.
Starting in October 2001, the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST) enrolled 49,528 women who had no signs of breast cancer at 33 sites in the United States and Canada. Women in the trial were given both digital and film examinations. Examinations were interpreted independently by two different radiologists. Breast cancer status was determined through available breast biopsy information within 15 months of study entry or through follow-up mammography ten months or later after study entry.
Digital mammography takes an electronic image of the breast and stores it directly in a computer, allowing the recorded data to be enhanced, magnified, or manipulated for further evaluation. The electronic image also can be printed on film. Film mammography units use film to both capture and display the image. The sensitivity of film mammography is somewhat limited in women with dense breasts, a population at higher risk for breast cancer.