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JNCI: Mammo CAD offers equivocal health benefits

CMIO, July 28, 2011

Using computer-aided detection software to help analyze and interpret mammograms does not improve accuracy, but it does raise a woman's risk of being recalled for additional testing, according to a study published online July 27 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. An accompanying editorial suggested the need for further improvements in CAD software and described existing technology as "more harmful than beneficial." CAD software is used currently for analyzing three out of four mammograms in the U.S. and carries annual direct Medicare costs of more than $30 million. "Despite broad acceptance and use, it is unclear if the benefits of CAD during screening mammography outweigh its potential risks and costs," wrote Joshua J. Fenton, MD, at the University of California, Davis, and colleagues, who explained that the ideal system would detect high-risk cancers earlier and reduce the incidence of advanced cancer.