What Is CAD and Why Is It On My Mammogram Report?
When reviewing your mammogram report or your invoice, you might come across the term “CAD”. CAD stands for Computer Assisted Detection, and it can be used to look at all sorts of different images, from x-rays to CTs. CAD uses specially designed software to analyze mammography images. It is a “second look” at your mammogram to assist your radiologist in the task of finding subtle signs of breast cancer.
Your radiologist interprets your mammogram fully, and then lets the CAD software analyze the images. CAD is designed to look for microcalcifications, areas of increased density and areas of asymmetry. In other words, it is looking for some of the same findings your radiologist looks for as signs of breast cancer. The CAD will mark the images with a series of boxes or circles for possible areas of concern, and the radiologist will then review the highlighted areas.
While there are studies showing increased accuracy of mammography using CAD, there are also studies showing it doesn’t alter accuracy significantly. It will never replace the trained and watchful eyes of your radiologist, but is a technical assistant. Improvements in CAD software and the things it can evaluate are ongoing.
As most radiologists will admit, interpreting mammograms is one of our hardest tasks. If there are any technologies that may give us even a little edge – we won’t say no.
Originally published 9/25/16 on mammographykc.com.