U.K. study shows digital mammography the way to go for women younger than 50

Full-field digital mammography significantly increases the cancer detection rate for women younger than 50 years, according to a study presented Monday afternoon at the RSNA meeting.

Full-field digital mammography significantly increases the cancer detection rate for women younger than 50 years, according to a study presented Monday afternoon at the RSNA meeting.

A U.K. corporate screening program offered two-view mammography every two years to female employees aged 40 to 70 years old between 2000 and 2007. Nearly 15,000 screening episodes were conducted, 5011 of which were allocated quasirandomly-whatever machine was available the women used-to full-field digital mammography (FFDM). Nearly half the study population (47%) was younger than 50.

After adjustment for age and calendar year, cancer detection rates were significantly higher using FFDM for the under-50 crowd: 4.3 per 1000 for digital mammography versus 1.4 per 1000 for screen-film. The recall rates were also higher for those in the under-50 group: 7.3% versus 5.3% for screen-film.

The positive predicative value of FFDM was significantly higher for the under-50 group (5.9% versus 2.6% for screen-film).

Routine breast screening of the population, including women younger than 50, should be carried out using digital mammography, said lead author of the study Dr. Nicholas Perry, clinical director for the London Breast Institute in London.

"We know very well digital performs significantly better for this group, and I think we cannot base current decisions on what has been shown to be outdated technology," he said.