A new study of advantages of digital mammography and traditional film mammography was recently conducted by the University of North California in Chapel Hill. The study has found, that digital mammography is a better way of examining breasts than traditional film mammography for some women. Approximately 42,000 women were examined during the research. The scientists divided the women into 10 different subgroups looking at combinations of the three factors – menopausal status, age and breast density – and compared the accuracy results of digital versus film mammograms in all subgroups. They were trying to figure out the most important factor. There were found no significant differences in accuracy between the two mammography methods for other groups of women, but the just mentioned ones. But doctors are able to get more accurate results with digital mammograms when dealing with patients under the age 50 with dense breasts who are premenopausal or perimenopausal.
Mammography Study Results
The study found, that the denser the breast tissue, the more difficult it is to detect breast cancer on a mammogram. This happens because both dense tissue and cancer show up white on a mammogram, while fat shows up dark. This is why cancer is easier to detect in fatty breasts.
About 20 percent of the U.S. mammography machines are digital, while the other 80 percent are traditional film units. And the type of it influences the accuracy of diagnosis. As a rule, younger women tend to have more dense breasts than older women, but not always. But it’s recommended to women to ask their doctor or mammogram technician to provide the information on breast density along with the mammogram report.
Difference between Digital Mammography and Film Mammography
Traditional mammography is the process of using low-dose X-rays to examine the breasts and to look for various types of tumors and cysts. In digital mammography the X-ray film is replaced by particular detectors converting X-rays into electrical signals. The detectors are similar to those in digital cameras, and the electrical signals produce breast images that can be viewed on the computer screen. Digital mammography is a pain-free procedure. It is a common practice in the United States and is deployed in many parts of the world.
Whatever mammography method you choose or your doctor recommends to you, it has been proven to reduce mortality from breast cancer. Additionally to this, don’t forget to perform regular breast self-exam every month a few days after your period ends.