• Computer-aided Mammography: Should You Consider It?

    IMAGEBreast cancer is the most common type of cancer in American women. Chances of successful treatment are the greatest when the cancer is detected in its early stages. Mammography is a screening test which creates images of the breasts so a radiologist can locate suspicious areas. Mammography is not perfect, and researchers are working on ways to improve its accuracy. One type of technology to try make mammograms better is computer-aided mammography, also known as computer-aided detection (CAD).

    What Is Computer-aided Mammography?

    In traditional mammography, a radiologist reviews an x-ray of the breast to locate any suspicious areas and determine whether further diagnostic testing is necessary. With CAD, the radiologist uses a computer program to help detect suspicious areas on a mammogram after the initial review is done.

    What Does the Evidence Say?

    One study showed that CAD may falsely suggest suspicious areas of growth in the breast, and may not substantially detect more breast cancer cases. The study reported that for every 100,000 CAD mammograms, 2,985 false positive mammograms will occur, while only five more cancers will be detected. In another study, researchers concluded that the use of CAD did not improve the rate of detecting cancer.

    What Should You Do?

    Researchers are continuing to look for ways to improve the accuracy of mammography. CAD is one of the many types of breast imaging technologies available today, including ultrasound, digital mammography, and MRI.
    When scheduling your next mammogram, you may want to find out if CAD or another advanced breast imaging technology is available in your area. If it is, you and your doctor can decide if the technology is right for you. If your facility does not offer CAD, remember that the most important consideration for getting a quality mammogram is having a well-trained radiologist read the results.


    American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org

    National Breast Cancer Foundation http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org


    Breast Cancer Society of Canada http://www.bcsc.ca

    Radiology for Patients http://www.radiologyinfo.ca


    Cancer among women. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/data/women.htm. Updated August 20, 2015. Accessed September 3, 2015.

    Computer-aided detection offers same accuracy as double-reading mammography. BreastCancer.org website. Available at: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/new%5Fresearch/20081001b.jsp. Published October 1, 2008. Accessed September 3, 2015.

    Cupples TE, Cunningham JE, Reynolds JC. Impact of computer-aided detection in a regional screening mammography program. American Journal of Radiology. 2005;185(4):944-950.

    Ellis RL, Meade AA, Mathiason MA, Willison KM, Logan-Young W. Evaluation of computer-aided detection systems in the detection of small invasive breast carcinoma. Radiology. 2007;245(1):88-94.

    Fenton J, Abraham L, Taplin S, et al. Effectiveness of computer-aided detection in community mammography practice. J Natl Cancer Inst 2011 Aug 3;103(15):1152.

    Fenton J, Taplin S, Carney P, et al. Influence of computer-aided detection on performance of screening mammography. N Engl J Med. 2007;356(14):1399-1409.

    Gur D, Sumkin JH, Rockette HE, et al. Changes in breast cancer detection and mammography recall rates after the introduction of a computer-aided detection system. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004;96:185-190.

    Mammography for breast cancer screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 1, 2015. Accessed September 3, 2015.

    What you need to know about breast cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/breast/page1. Updated August 2012. Accessed September 3, 2015.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.