LAS VEGAS -- When it comes to detecting breast tumors, mammography is still the gold standard. And now the traditional mammogram has been improved upon.
Radiologist Luther Creed explains that digital mammography is not a replacement for film mammography but for certain patients it provides a better image.
"Mammography is still the mainstay of looking for breast cancer. The subtleties of tissue are better demonstrated on the digital exam. Also, looking for the small calcifications that occur in breast cancer, which are almost 45 percent of the way they present are better demonstrated on digital mammography, particularly when there is a dense breast," Dr. Creed said.
A study of 42,000 women found that those under the age of 50, or those with dense breasts, are likely to get a better reading with a digital mammogram.
"I have very dense breasts and I feel much more confident in the reading," said patient Sybil Greenberg. She liked the digital mammography for other reasons, too. "In previous mammographies that I've had -- where it was not digital -- they sometimes had to take the pictures two and three times to get a reading which of course upset me because of the extra radiation that I received," she said.
"Instead of a cassette that holds film, the digital machine has a receptor that catches the light coming through it electronically," said Dr. Creed.
The radiologist can adjust brightness and contrast and it saves time for the patient, because there's no film to develop while you wait. Other than that, the experience is the same. Desert Radiologists has digital mammography at all their local offices.