Study Questions Exam to Detect Breast Cancer

A highly promoted and widely used computerized system for examining mammograms is leading to less accuracy, not more, a new study finds.

The system, known as computer-aided detection, or CAD, did not find more breast cancer, researchers are reporting today. But it did lead to many more false alarms that resulted in additional testing and biopsies for spots on mammograms that turned out to be harmless.

Such detection systems, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998, are sold by several companies, including Hologic of Bedford, Mass.; iCAD of Nashua, N.H.; and Kodak. According to the National Cancer Institute, the systems are now being used in about 30 percent of mammography centers.

The equipment is expensive, costing $50,000 to $175,000, but Medicare, assuming it would improve the outcome, pays an extra $20 for each mammogram read with it. That made it profitable for large centers to use it. Doctors also worried about lawsuits if they were not using it and missed a cancerRead More….

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