28. January 2010 17:50
Digital mammography delivers 22% less radiation on average than film mammography, according to a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.
The study, part-financed by the National Cancer Institute in the USA, indicates that digital radiology is preferable on safety grounds - but not that film mammography should be avoided as such.
The study analysed the results of the 2005 Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial, involving 49,528 women. It found that digital mammograms detected up to 28% more cancers than film mammograms in women aged below 50 who had not experienced menopause and women with dense breast tissue.
Carol Lee, Chair of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission, said the new study showed that digital mammography "can be achieved with overall a lower radiation dose". Lowering the dose is preferable, she said: "We certainly want to keep radiation doses as low as possible and still achieve the desired goal of a good image."
However, Lee emphasised that where digital mammography is not available, women should not avoid film mammograms if these are recommended.