By using computers programmed to recognize suspicious mammograms, doctors can find breast cancers that would otherwise escape diagnosis, say radiologists who are among the minority in their profession currently using the technique.
Stamatia Destounis of the University of Rochester in New York and her colleagues employed an X-ray–scanning computer to reanalyze old mammogram results of 318 women. Although doctors hadn't originally read the mammograms as being abnormal, all the women in the study had been diagnosed with breast cancer at least 1 year after their mammograms were performed. In 52 cases, a pair of physicians who had initially read the results hadn't noticed developing cancers that, in retrospect, were visible on the breast images.
The computer-assisted analyses correctly pegged 37 of these missed cancers, Destounis and her colleagues report in the August Radiology. However, the computer flagged as suspicious about twice that number of masses tha