Computer-assisted screening used in many American mammograms does not contribute to breast cancer testing. However, it increases health costs in a considerable way, as new studies indicate.
Some past tests presumed that computers could act like another set of eyes for physicians. This method uses special programs to point suspicious-looking tissues on mammograms and that specialists who perform these screenings could have missed. Physicians then evaluate the images one more time before taking a decision.
A part of these previous tests involved computer recognition for mammograms with outdated X-rays. Today, specialists use more innovative digital X-rays that are incorporated in the cancer screening system at a national scale. The older strategy had more flaws; now computer-assisted tests are standard elements for cancer detection.
The research used a very large sample of over 320,000 women who were screened between 2005 and 2010. American scientists compared screening detection percentages after tests with and without the new computer-assisted programs. About 25 % of these evaluations did not have this technological innovation.
The general cancer detection percentages (around 4.5 in 1,000 females) was identical in both categories. Computer-assisted tests were better at discovering early stages of cancer, known as ductal carcinoma in DCIS or situ. If this is an advantage, it is still a controversial one, because these malignancies are not obtrusive. Some professionals think that these stages should not be considered real forms of cancer.
Testing mammograms are mainly preventive and many health insurance companies cover the tests with no co-payment for the patient. Doctors now have to be familiarized with all new technological improvements. This way, they can use medical care money in a much smarter way. A large part of the huge money leaks in the medical system is many times determined by poor institution management.
The massive expenses in the US health system are still a hot topic in 2015. Many older payment methods were accepted for breast cancer screening more than 15 years ago. Medical insurance policies have been included after some years and the majority of private healthcare companies followed them. Specialists get $7 more from the public health system and an additional $20 from their private insurance services for mammograms performed with a computer-assisted system.
Some articles in the medical publications affirm that this research raises vital questions about the current use of outdated methods with cancer-detection screening. CAD machines can vary in performances and some could be a lot more efficient than the rest. The experts suggest that additional studies are needed to figure out when the method is suited for mammograms and cancer testing.
Image source: TheNYpost