A new study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has revealed that for some women, digital mammography may be a better screening option than traditional film mammography.
Women under the age 50 with dense breasts who are pre-menopausal or perimenopausal get more accurate results with digital mammograms, said UNC's Dr. Etta D. Pisano, principal investigator and lead author of the study.
"We looked at a cross-section of characteristics. This paper confirms that if you are under 50, pre- or perimenopausal, and have dense breasts, you should definitely be screened with digital rather than film," Pisano said.
The study, entitled Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST),
enrolled 49,528 women at 33 centres in the U.S. and Canada.
The women underwent both digital and film mammography. Breast cancer status was determined for 42,760 women.
"The original DMIST results showed that digital was statistically similar to film in the overall screening population but performed better than film in pre- and perimenopausal women under 50," Pisano said.
For this study, the researchers retrospectively compared the accuracy of digital versus film mammography in 10 subgroups defined by various combinations of age, menopausal status and breast density, using either biopsy results or follow-up information.
The results confirmed the trial's original findings in favour of improved diagnostic accuracy of digital mammography over film for pre- and perimenopausal women under 50 years old with dense breasts.
The study is published in the February issue of Radiology.