IAEA Guidance Document: Worldwide Implementation of Digital Mammography Imaging

To help its Member States plan, design and operate high-quality breast cancer screening services by ensuring that their transition to newer technologies guarantees consistent, high-quality images, the IAEA has published a new guidance document: Worldwide Implementation of Digital Mammography Imaging.

Released on World Breast Cancer Day (19 October), this latest issue (No. 46) of the IAEA’s Human Health Series provides decision makers, planners, programme administrators and healthcare policy professionals with the information they need to successfully establish digital mammography facilities or upgrade their existing ones. The introduction of digital mammography in 2000 has shifted the preference away from analogue in favour of digital’s notable advantages for patients and providers: improved efficiencies in terms of workflows, overall costs and reduced radiation doses patients are subjected to; immediate availability; ease of display, storage and electronic sharing; wider range; and better reliability, to name but a few. Advanced analysis software and artificial intelligence can even be applied to digital images to facilitate diagnoses, improve workflows and enhance screening. Yet, optimizing mammography imaging is not a simple nor singular process. It cannot be done through the adoption of digital systems alone; rather, it demands proper infrastructure, well-trained staff, the best equipment and a rigorous quality assurance programme. Without these critical elements, image quality not only suffers and but can also compromise the care that patients receive.

Against this backdrop, the IAEA’s new publication provides countries with a “road map” to navigate this calculus within their available resources. Through practical information on relevant considerations, contexts, needs, challenges and decisions across various implementation scenarios, mammography facilities around the world can now more effectively move towards an arrangement that better addresses the needs of their patients while also ensuring the best possible images. As well, facilities can draw on the good implementation practices as they learn from the experiences of others.