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What are the advantages of Digital Mammography?
Both digital and film mammography use X-rays to produce an image of the breast.
In film mammography, which has been used for over 35 years, the image is created directly on a film. While standard film mammogr aphy is very good, it is less sensitive for women who have dense breasts. Prior studies have suggested that approximately 10 percent to 20 percent of breast cancers that were detected by breast self-examination or physical examination are not visible on film mammography. A major limitation of film mammography is the film itself. Once a film mammogram is obtained, it cannot be significantly altered; if the film is underexposed, for example, contrast is lost and cannot be regained.
Digital mammographytakes an electronic image of the breast and stores it directly in a computer. Digital mammography uses less radiation than film mammography. Digital mammography allows improvement in image storage and transmission because images can be stored and sent electronically. Radiologists also can use software to help interpret digital mammograms.
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* and at a meeting of the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) in Pentagon City, Va.
Source: National Cancer Institute
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