What Is the State of the Art of Mammography Today?

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Mammography still remains the standard of careful breast cancer screening. It doesn't pick up all cancer but it is the best we have, it picks up roughly 85-90% of breast cancers. They're two kinds of mammograms, there's film screen mammograms which is what had been done in the past and now there's digital mammography.

Each group has some advantages and the issue is that digital mammography probably is equivalent to film screen overall in terms of picking up cancers. However, digital is probably slightly better in women who are younger with dense breasts. That is a group who should definitely preferentially be with digital mammograms.

So most modern radiology facilities today do offer digital mammography. We're going beyond digital and screening and film mammography, to look at whether or not there are ways that we can improve on the technology that we already hav. And so for example people are introducing the idea, contrast enhanced mammography to help differentiate real findings versus false positives.

We at Mt. Sinai have one of the only 3-D, or tomosynthesis mammography machines in the city which essentially slices through the breast for slightly higher radiation dose not much at all, and we think it may be able to reduce false positives and the cancer detection rate by reducing the problems related to tissue overlay that you only get in the two-view mammograms.

So remains to be seen if these technologies improve on what we already have, but we're hoping that they will.