Diagnostic accuracy of digital versus film mammography: exploratory analysis of selected population subgroups in DMIST

Radiology. 2008 Feb;246(2):376-83. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2461070200.


Purpose: To retrospectively compare the accuracy of digital versus film mammography in population subgroups of the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST) defined by combinations of age, menopausal status, and breast density, by using either biopsy results or follow-up information as the reference standard.

Materials and methods: DMIST included women who underwent both digital and film screening mammography. Institutional review board approval at all participating sites and informed consent from all participating women in compliance with HIPAA was obtained for DMIST and this retrospective analysis. Areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUCs) for each modality were compared within each subgroup evaluated (age < 50 vs 50-64 vs >or= 65 years, dense vs nondense breasts at mammography, and pre- or perimenopausal vs postmenopausal status for the two younger age cohorts [10 new subgroups in toto]) while controlling for multiple comparisons (P < .002 indicated a significant difference). All DMIST cancers were evaluated with respect to mammographic detection method (digital vs film vs both vs neither), mammographic lesion type (mass, calcifications, or other), digital machine type, mammographic and pathologic size and diagnosis, existence of prior mammographic study at time of interpretation, months since prior mammographic study, and compressed breast thickness.

Results: Thirty-three centers enrolled 49 528 women. Breast cancer status was determined for 42,760 women, the group included in this study. Pre- or perimenopausal women younger than 50 years who had dense breasts at film mammography comprised the only subgroup for which digital mammography was significantly better than film (AUCs, 0.79 vs 0.54; P = .0015). Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System-based sensitivity in this subgroup was 0.59 for digital and 0.27 for film mammography. AUCs were not significantly different in any of the other subgroups. For women aged 65 years or older with fatty breasts, the AUC showed a nonsignificant tendency toward film being better than digital mammography (AUCs, 0.88 vs 0.70; P = .0025).

Conclusion: Digital mammography performed significantly better than film for pre- and perimenopausal women younger than 50 years with dense breasts, but film tended nonsignificantly to perform better for women aged 65 years or older with fatty breasts.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • United States / epidemiology
  • X-Ray Film / statistics & numerical data*