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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 16, 2005

Digital Mammography Better Than Standard Mammography For Some Women

University of Iowa radiologists were part of a large, multi-center clinical trial that determined that digital mammography is better than standard film mammography for detecting breast cancers in about 40 percent of women.

Specifically, the Digital Mammography Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST) found that digital mammography performed significantly better than film mammography for screening women under age 50, pre- and peri-menopausal women, and women with dense breast tissue. The study suggests that women in these groups are likely to benefit from earlier detection of their breast cancer if they undergo digital mammography rather than film mammography.

"These results are encouraging," said Laurie Fajardo, M.D., professor and head of radiology at the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, and lead investigator at the UI. "This technology will improve screening for breast cancer."

Digital mammography images are recorded electronically on a computer rather than on film. This means that specialized software can be used to enhance and manipulate the images to help diagnose cancers. Compared to standard film mammograms, digital mammography images also are easier to store, retrieve and share among physicians. Digital mammograms also use less radiation than film mammography, although the doses used in standard mammography are low and considered very safe.

Currently, only 8 percent of breast imaging facilities use digital mammography. UI Hospitals and Clinics is the only facility in the Iowa with digital mammography capability.

DMIST enrolled nearly 49,500 participants at 33 centers nationwide and in Canada. The UI enrolled nearly 3,000 women. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and conducted by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN). The results were reported online in the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday, Sept. 16.

Although the DMIST study does not prove that improved detection for certain women will lead to saved lives, the cancers that were detected by digital mammography and not by film were the types of cancers than can lead to death.

The DMIST study results also were presented at the ACRIN fall meeting Sept. 16 in Arlington, Va., by trial principal investigator Etta Pisano, M.D., of University of North Carolina. Additional details of the study are available at

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, (319) 335-9917

PHOTO: A photo of Dr. Fajardo is available from Jennifer Brown. Email her at

NOTE TO EDITORS: Dr. Fajardo is at the ACRIN meeting in Arlington and her availability is limited. For assistance in contacting Dr. Fajardo, please call Jennifer Brown at 319-335-9917