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Computer-Aided Mammogram Study Raises Cost Issue

04/16/13

  12:19:41 pm, by MedBen5   , 210 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Computer-Aided Mammogram Study Raises Cost Issue

Balancing the availability of advanced medical testing with real-world financial realities can be very tricky – a point that a new study makes clear.

According to HealthDay News (via WebMD), researchers concluded that adding computer-aided detection (CAD) to mammograms finds more early, noninvasive cancers and helps detect invasive cancers at earlier stages. But the technology raises the cost of the procedure while increasing the amount of diagnostic testing among women who turn out not to have breast cancer.

About three-quarters of mammograms performed in the U.S. now use CAD software, which looks for areas that may indicate cancer so the radiologist can then look more closely at the mammogram. But despite its growing popularity, there is limited and conflicting research on its effect, said Dr. Joshua Fenton, an associate professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, Davis, and lead study author.

An evaluation of over 409,000 mammograms determined that when CAD was used, doctors found a greater number of early cancers known as ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS. “But the [overall] rate of invasive breast cancer diagnosis was no different with or without CAD,” Fenton said. Once detected, however, CAD did increase the likelihood of catching the cancer in stage 1 or 2 compared to stage 3 or 4.

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