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    Mammograms Go Digital: FDA Approves New System


    Film images presently reveal an estimated 80% of all breast cancers, which makes them quite accurate, says Schultz. But despite whether this device is more effective, he says, the other distinct advantage to the approval of this latest device is the publicity it will receive. "Anytime you have any publicity, there is potential for a bounce, and hopefully, that bounce will stimulate women to have any sort of mammography," he says.

    But women who wish to have a digital mammogram may not wish to wait. Although there are 50 systems already available for use in Canada, Europe, Latin America, and Asia, where the device was approved in 1999, there currently are only 10 systems installed in the U.S., Charlie Young, spokesman for GE Medical Systems, tells WebMD. The company plans to have the device fully "implemented" throughout the U.S., along with the approval for the ability to read images off the monitor, "over the next five years," he adds.

    In the meantime, even GE Medical Systems' competitors are getting ready. "We will not comment on the approval of a GE device," says Dawn Beck, a spokesperson for Eastman Kodak, one of the largest makers of X-ray film. "But I will tell you," she says, "that we currently are making a high-resolution, high-processing laser imager that can be used with the GE system."

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