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ETMC Cancer Institute

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Digital Mammography

The ETMC Breast Care Center uses the Selenia digital mammography system from Hologic which incorporates revolutionary imaging technology that provides exceedingly sharp images in less time than traditional mammography methods. This same digital technology is also available on the ETMC Mobile Mammography unit .

 From the patient's point of view, a digital mammogram is like traditional film screen mammography. Both use X-rays to generate images of the breast. However, instead of using film to capture and record the image, a digital mammogram uses a special detector to capture and convert the X-ray energy into a digital image.

The resulting digital images are immediately available to the radiologist for evaluation. The radiologist can view and manipulate the images on high-resolution computer monitors that enhance visualization of the structures within the breast tissue, reducing the likelihood of patients having to come back for additional images.

Practical advantages
They can also adjust brightness and contrast, and zoom in on specific areas to help detect small calcifications, masses and other changes that may be signs of early cancer. Digital mammography offers a number of other practical advantages and patient conveniences.

Because there is no waiting for film to be developed, it can significantly reduce the time patients spend in the breast center, as well as reduce the need for repeat exams due to under or over exposure. Also, digital images are easily stored and transferred electronically, eliminating the dependency on one set of original films, which can be misfiled or lost in transit.

 Study results
One study that enrolled nearly 50,000 women has revealed that digital mammography can detect breast cancer better than film-based mammography in many women. Each woman in the study underwent both digital and film mammography. The landmark results showed that the accuracy of digital mammography was greater than film-screen mammography in detecting breast cancer for women who are younger than 50, have dense breast tissue, are premenopausal, or had their last menstrual period within 12 months of the test.

The study results do not mean that women who have had analog mammograms need to go back to their doctors immediately and request a digital mammogram. Currently only eight percent of mammography units in the United States are digital units. The American Cancer Society recommends that all women receive annual mammograms beginning at age 40. When detected in its early stages, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer patients is 95 percent. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, exceeded only by lung cancer.

Statistics demonstrate that one in eight women will develop breast cancer sometime in her life.

Digital Mammo 2