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What is digital mammography?

My sister recently had an early cancer detected by digital mammography and she told me I should get one done. What is digital mammography?

Let’s start with the mammography part.  For someone without symptoms you would get a “screening mammogram”.  Despite the numerous studies performed world-wide over the years, there is still no set-in-stone rule for when to get screening mammograms done.  Pretty much all agree to have screenings started by age 50, and some recommend starting at age 40.  The recommendations for screening change when you have a close relative diagnosed as having breast cancer.  It’s best to discuss these specifics with your primary physician.

Digital mammography is simply a high tech method for performing mammograms.  In the past, the only way to do them was on film (called film-screen mammography) for viewing on light-boxes.  Now images can be captured electronically for viewing on a computer screen.  This electronic method is what is referred to as Digital Mammography. The issues around the differences between digital mammography and film-screen mammography are too expansive to cover well here.  The most important aspect of your question is that your sister has breast cancer.  You should definitely have a mammography screening.  If digital is not available to you, get film-screen.

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