Digital Mammograms

Mammography has long been the gold standard for breast cancer detection.

Images are developed on film and doctors use a magnifying glass to search for tumors but in recent years some hospitals have started using digital mammograms.

The computer allows radiologists to manipulate the scan for a closer look inside the breast and a new study shows the digital advantages are allowing clinicians to detect breast cancer more accurately in younger women.

In women under 50 digital mammograms proved to be about 15 percent more accurate than standard scans. However, for women over 50, film performed just as well as the computer.

The reason is that researchers say younger women have denser breast tissue and digital can see through it better.

And there are other advantages.

Records can be sent electronically whenever a new doctor needs them. That has experts believing digital will become the standard for breast screening, but it could take some time.

Digital machines are very expensive and right now account for only 8 percent of all mammography equipment.

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