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Digital Mammography: Process, Guidelines, and Potential Advantages

Mark P. Bowes, PhD

  *Medical Writer, Portland, Oregon.
  Address correspondence to: Mark P. Bowes, PhD, Medical Writer, 7135 SE 18th Avenue, Portland, OR 97202. E-mail: mpbowes@gmail.com.
  Disclosure Statement: Dr Bowes reports having no financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.


Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer among women in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality. Breast cancer screening examinations using film-screen mammography (FSM) imaging reduce mortality due to breast cancer but are associated with potential limitations, including a high false-positive rate, restricted image contrast, image artifacts, and low sensitivity for the detection of tumors in higher-density breast tissue. Over the last decade, digital mammography has replaced conventional FSM in many imaging facilities. Full-field digital mammography offers several potential advantages in cancer screening and diagnosis, including greater dynamic range, better contrast resolution, greater detection of cancers in certain patient populations, and improved imaging workflow. Digital mammography also makes it possible to perform many advanced post image acquisition techniques, including computer-aided detection, contrast-enhanced mammography, and breast tomosynthesis. Imaging standards established by the US Mammography Quality Standards Act, as well as guidelines from theUS Food and Drug Administration, American College of Radiology, and other societies, have provided considerable guidance for mammography technologists to follow to ensure imaging quality. These standards and guidelines make specific recommendations about image acquisition, display, and storage. 

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