Premenopausal women with dense breasts reap benefits of digital mammography

January 31, 2008

An analysis of the multicenter results of the Digital Mammography Imaging Screen Trial has found that digital mammography outperforms conventional screen film mammography for women under 50 who have dense breasts.

An analysis of the multicenter results of the Digital Mammography Imaging Screen Trial has found that digital mammography outperforms conventional screen film mammography for women under 50 who have dense breasts.DMIST, sponsored by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network, enrolled 49,528 women at 33 centers in the U.S. and Canada. The women underwent both digital and film mammography. Breast cancer status was determined for 42,760 women. The results from the follow-up analysis appear in the February issue of Radiology.

Researchers led by principal investigator Dr. Etta D. Pisano at the University of North of Carolina at Chapel Hill retrospectively compared results in 10 different subgroups of women:

  • pre- and perimenopausal women under age 50 with fatty breasts
  • pre- and perimenopausal women under age 50 with dense breasts
  • postmenopausal women under 50 with fatty breasts
  • postmenopausal women under 50 with dense breasts
  • pre- and perimenopausal women age 50 to 64 with fatty breasts
  • pre- and perimenopausal women age 50 to 64 with dense breasts
  • postmenopausal women age 50 to 64 with fatty breasts
  • postmenopausal women age 50 to 64 with dense breasts
  • women over age 65 with fatty breasts
  • women over 65 with dense breasts

The most recent findings confirmed the trial's original findings in favor of improved diagnostic accuracy of digital mammography over film for pre- and perimenopausal women under 50 years old with dense breasts, according to Pisano.

"This paper confirms that if you are under 50, pre- or perimenopausal, and have dense breasts, you should definitely be screened with digital rather than film," Pisano said.The results also showed a trend toward improved diagnostic accuracy of film over digital mammography for women over 65 with fatty breasts. This finding was not statistically significant, however, and further investigation is needed to determine the reason that film performed slightly better in this subgroup. For other groups evaluated, there was no significant difference.For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

Digital mammography hits mainstream use

DMIST results highlight possible downsides of digital mammography in older women

After a long haul, digital finally gains an edge