As radiologists transition to digital mammography amid a growing body of evidence suggesting that the screening method is better than film mammography at detecting breast cancer in certain patients, specialists making the transition are increasingly ordering repeat exams in women who turn out to be cancer-free, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, 32 percent of mammography clinics nationwide now have at least one digital machine, compared with just 10 percent two years ago. Radiologists note that the digital technology affords more control over features including contrast and magnification and makes things that may have been blurry or even invisible on film more clear. Noting that some radiologists are leveraging the digital technology as a “selling point” to attract patients, the Times reports there is a six-month waiting list to purchase certain types of digital machines despite their high price at roughly three times the amount of traditional machines—totaling from $350,000 to $600,000. Though many radiologists predict that digital mammography in the long run will make mammograms more accurate for most women, which ultimately could reduce call-backs and lower costs, some radiologists are finding that currently “digital and film versions can sometimes be hard to reconcile.” According to the Times, “radiologists who are retraining their eyes and minds may be more likely to play it safe by requesting additional X-rays,” as well as additional tests such as ultrasounds and biopsies. Although no published studies pinpointing patient call-back rates during these transitions exist, eight of 10 radiologists interviewed by the Times said that their call-back rates for patients (who in the end turned out healthy) increased considerably during the transition from film to digital. Noting that call-backs also can lead to unnecessary anxiety for many patients, the Times says, however, that radiologists are confident that the process will eventually become easier once a woman has had enough digital mammograms to give physicians a baseline for comparison (Grady, New York Times, 4/10/08 [registration required]).