A landmark study found that mammograms using digital imaging to help detect breast cancer are better than standard x-rays for young women and those with dense breasts. The newer test, however, is not a better indicator for most postmenopausal women.
Each of the 42,760 participants received both types of mammograms. The results were independently reviewed by 2 radiologists, and biopsies determined whether suspicious findings were indeed cancer. Follow-up examinations were conducted a year later to determine how many cancers had been missed the first time around. The researchers had detected a total of 335 breast cancers. Both mammograms missed about 30% of them.
Specifically, the digital mammograms were 15% more accurate, compared with standard film x-rays in women under age 50. For women with dense breasts and those not going through menopause, digital mammograms were 11% and 15% better, respectively. Although digital mammograms are more expensive and are not widely used today, physicians expect that they will become the norm because of their advantages. Digital mammograms can be stored on a computer and sent electronically whenever a woman moves or a new physician needs to review them.
One study linked multiple pregnancies to an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation later in life, and another investigated the association between premature delivery and cardiovascular disease.
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