Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Annual Mammograms May Have More False-Positives

Screening Mammograms Every Two Years Cut the Chances of False Alarm, Study Shows

Digital vs. Film Mammography

In a related study, researchers found that digital and film mammography were similarly effective in picking up cancers in most women.

Digital and film mammography both use X-ray. But in film mammography, the image is created directly on a film, while digital mammography takes an electronic image that is stored in a computer. Unlike with film mammography, radiologists can use software to manipulate digital mammograms so they may be easier to interpret.

The FDA approved the first digital mammography system nearly 12 years ago, before any large studies had compared it to film mammography, says Karla Kerlikowske, MD, author of the second paper.

By the time the first such study began enrolling women a decade ago, "the horse had left the barn," says Kerlikowske, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Today, she says, more than two-thirds of accredited mammography machines in the U.S. are digital, which is more expensive than film.

Kerlikowske and co-researchers analyzed real-world data from about 330,000 women aged 40 to 79 who underwent nearly 900,000 mammograms at facilities in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium. A little more than a third of the mammograms were digital.

Kerlikowske says her study found that the two technologies are similar in women 50 to 79. If digital had been worse, she says, "then we'd be in trouble."

Because radiologists can manipulate digital mammograms, women who opt to begin screening in their 40s might choose digital mammography to optimize cancer detection in their denser breasts, the researchers write.

The new studies appear in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow