Eversince the introduction of computers to the health care delivery system, the electronic marvel has been only expanding its potential in improving diagnosis and treatment modalities.
A computer-aided detection system not only helps radiologists detect more breast cancers, but also helps detect smaller tumors in younger women.
The study included 27,274 screening mammograms done over a three year period---19,402 were done using a computer-aided mammography detection system (CAD); 7,872 were mammography studies done before the CAD system was installed.
Overall, there was a 6% increase in the cancer detection rate. One of the significant findings is that the cancers were spotted much early, when they were smaller and when it was more curable.
CAD increased the detection rate of small invasive cancers (those 1 cm or less) by 164%. Invasive, lump forming cancers are more likely to be lethal if they aren't detected early, especially in younger women.
The average ages of mammography screening detected cancers in the CAD group was more than five years younger than in the pre-CAD group.
In the study, the radiologists reviewed each mammogram and then activated the CAD system. The CAD system "marked" areas on the mammogram that were suspicious for cancer, then the radiologists would again review the mammogram. Small masses are difficult for radiologists to detect, especially in younger women with denser breast tissue.
The CAD system is indeed a boon to the radiologist and adds experience to his/her practice.