A mammogram of healthy breast tissue recorded on film (left) isn’t as clear as a digital mammogram (right). Scientists X-rayed 42,760 women’s breasts with both digital and film machines. Overall, the techniques detected cancer equally well. But in women with dense breast tissue and those under 50, digital readouts detected up to 28 percent more cancers than film did.
Digital mammography captures an image on an electronic X-ray detector, which sends the information into a computer, where it can be enhanced. Radiologist Etta D. Pisano of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill led the study, which will appear in the Oct. 27 New England Journal of Medicine. The white spots in the pictures above—not from the new study—are calcium deposits, which can be signs of cancer when they cluster.