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Digital Mammography with CAD (Computer Aided Detection), just like traditional film mammography, is used by radiologists to screen for and diagnose breast cancer. For the patient, the procedures are the same: in both cases, X-rays of compressed breast tissue create an image of the inside of the breast. For the physician, however, the results of a digital mammogram offer the following benefits that are not always afforded by film mammography:

  • Speed: Digital mammograms appear on a high-resolution monitor in mere seconds. Technicians and physicians don’t have to wait for film to develop.
  • Detail: Because the digital mammogram can be enhanced or refined, magnified and manipulated by the radiologist through the use of a computer, even small differences between normal and abnormal breast tissue are seen more easily than they would be on film.
  • Less Radiation over Time: Thanks to the detailed nature of digital mammography, fewer follow-up procedures are necessary than with film mammography. This can result in less exposure of radiation to the patient over time.
  • Storage and Sharing: Stored digitally, mammogram files do not take up physical office space. Additionally, they can easily be shared between health care providers when coordinating care.

Recommended guidelines for both digital and film mammography are the same. The American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology, and the American Medical Association recommend a baseline mammogram at or before age 40, and a screening mammogram every year after age 40.

Not everyone needs or should have digital mammography. Some cases are better suited to film mammography. Your physician will suggest the best course of action based on the details of your case.

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