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Digital Mammography Better Than Film for Some Women
Date:1/29/2008

Those under 50 who are pre-, perimenopausal with dense breasts benefit most, analysis confirms

TUESDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- For some women, digital mammography is a better bet than traditional film mammography, a new study confirms.

Women under the age 50 with dense breasts who are premenopausal or perimenopausal get more accurate results with digital mammograms, said study author Dr. Etta Pisano, the Kenan professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill.

Pisano was the principal investigator for a landmark study published in 2005, known as DMIST, that compared digital to film mammography for all women. In this latest research, Pisano decided to reanalyze the original findings by looking more closely at subgroups of women.

In the original study, 33 U.S. centers enrolled more than 49,000 women and determined the breast cancer status of more than 42,000. This latest research evaluated the mammograms of the 42,000 women. The new report was expected to be published in the February issue of Radiology.

The new analysis, said Pisano, "pretty much confirms what we found [in the original study]."

"In this latest study, we were trying to figure out which factor was most important," she said. To do that, they compared the accuracy results of digital versus film mammograms in 10 different subgroups of women, looking at combinations of the three factors -- menopausal status, age and breast density.

"And we couldn't figure out which factor was most important," Pisano said.

For other groups of women, no significant differences in accuracy were found between the two methods. The researchers did discover a trend toward improved accuracy of traditional film mammograms over digital ones for women over age 65 with fatty, rather than dense, breasts. However, the finding didn't reach statistical significance, Pisano noted.


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