Digital Mammography

Digital mammography (DM) is superior to screen-film mammography, for women with dense breasts, due to its ability to selectively optimise contrast in areas of dense parenchymal (glandular and fibrous) tissues.  Early detection programmes for breast cancer will in the future consist of personalised image processing and computer-aided diagnosis. DM or full-field digital mammography (FFDM), is based on x-ray technology which is used in conventional mammograms.  The main difference is that digital mammography uses solid-state detectors instead of film to record the x-ray pattern of the breast.  These detectors work by converting the x-rays into electronic signals that are sent to a computer: these electronic signals are then transformed into images which can be digitally displayed and stored.  There are several advantages of using Digital mammography over film mammography and these include the ability to manipulate the image contrast for better resolution and the capability to use computer-aided detection of any abnormalities.  In addition, there is also the ability to transmit digital files to other breast imaging experts.  Subsequently, digital mammograms are not prone to problems with film development compared to film mammography.  Therefore, digital mammography results in a reduction of x-ray exposure. In a large study, 5,102 women were exposed to radiation during mammography; whereas, 50,000 women were participating in a more extensive DM study called Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trials (DMIST) from October 2001 through to October 2003.  These breast cancer screening studies concluded that DM and screen-film mammography involved radiation doses of 3.7 and 4.7 mGy, respectively. The GOV.UK website also has breast cancer screening information.