Oxford Breast Imaging Unit scans 25,000 women every year. It is hoping to buy a state-of-the-art digital mammography machine. It currently has a film-based analogue one but digital scanners use a lower dose of radiation, detect tumours across a larger area of the breast and show tissue more clearly.
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Oxford is a Thames Valley cancer centre serving 2.5m people. Routine screening uses analogue film-based mammography. Analogue scanners are slow, occasionally produce unclear images requiring a re-scan. The scan event can be uncomfortable for women and the machines unwieldy for radiographers. They produce large sheets of film images which take time to develop and are cumbersome to distribute among diagnosing specialists. Images cannot be uploaded electronically to the hospital IT system.
Digital scanners use a lower dose of radiation, detect tumours across a larger area of the chest and are less uncomfortable for those scanned (and radiographers). The images give more information and can be shared quickly amongst clinicians via the hospital and national NHS network. There are benefits to detecting breast cancer early, so advances in image technology are important. Oxford is leading a national trial in extending the screening age of women. This technology will help that.
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