Study Compares Digital Versus Film Mammography

Accuracy varies based on patient age, menopausal status and breast density

TUESDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Digital mammography appears to be superior to film mammography for breast cancer screening in premenopausal and perimenopasual women younger than 50 years of age with dense breast tissue, according to an article published in the February issue of Radiology.

Etta D. Pisano, M.D., of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., and colleagues analyzed data from the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST) in order to compare the accuracy of digital versus film mammography for breast cancer screening based on patient age, menopausal status and breast density. Biopsy results or follow-up information were used as a reference standard. Data from 42,760 women were included in the analysis.

Digital and film mammography performed similarly for most subgroups of patients. However, in premenopausal or perimenopausal women younger than 50 with dense breasts, digital mammography had superior accuracy compared to film. Among women aged 65 and older with fatty breast tissue, there was a non-significant trend favoring film over digital mammography.

"We believe our study provides additional information for researchers contemplating further research studies of digital mammography. However, it does not provide a definitive answer to the interesting question of why digital mammography performed better than film mammography for women with dense breasts, women younger than 50 years and pre- and perimenopausal women, and why there was a tendency toward better performance for film mammography for women aged 65 years or older with fatty breasts," the authors conclude.

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