Monday, August 11, 2008

Digital Mammograms

By: Jenny Walters

A recent article on Cnn.com entitled “Do digital mammograms make a difference?” by Linda Saether discussed the details involved in a digital mammogram.

Although digital sounds great, according to Dr. Carl D’Orsi, director of breast imaging at Emory Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta, “So far we have not been able to obviate the need for compression.” Therefore, as Saether remarked: “The ‘smoosh’ factor lives on.”[1]

With this being said, there are many positives involved in digital mammograms:1

1. The dose of radiation exposure is lower than in traditional analog mammography.
2. Digital mammograms can be stored better and shared more easily because they are computer files.
3. The digital image allows for a great deal of picture enhancement. Dr. D’Orsi stated “We can change the brightness, we can change the contrast, we can invert the contrast, we can magnify it, and we can demagnify.”

The down side to digital mammograms is they cannot detect cancer much better than the older analog type could. However, Dr. D’Orsi stated: “It is better than film in really one particular area, and that’s the woman with dense breast…By dense breasts, we mean a woman who has a fair amount of glandular tissue, breast tissue, related to fatty tissue that’s always present in breast.” He went on to state, “Studies have shown that digital mammography does detect the findings better [in the above] scenario.”1

No matter whether you will be getting a digital mammogram or an analog mammogram, Saether remarked, the best advice to follow is that of your doctor’s “Just do it.”1

Pam Keel, an eight-year veteran mammographer, said: “There are a few things women can do to make this picture-taking session more productive. First…lay off the caffeine for a week prior to your mammogram…caffeine can wreak havoc on breasts—dense or not.” In addition, Keel advises women who are highly pain sensitive to “take something such as over-the-counter pain reliever [prior to the mammogram].”1

Although mammograms are not the most comfortable thing women must go through, they are an invaluable asset we have for early detection of breast cancer.

[1] Saether L. Do digital mammograms make a difference” July 2008. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/07/24/hfh.digital.mammograms/index.html. Accessed on August 5, 2008.

1 comment:

Nadea Sid said...

This is a lil less close to my research field but I find the information useful and I'll keep visiting this site, thanks Jenny. Hope you guys will write more about breast :)

Nads