Achieving a high performance for the detection and characterization of architectural distortion in screening mammograms is important for an efficient breast cancer early detection. Viewing a mammogram image as a rough surface that can be described using the fractal theory is a well-recognized approach. This paper presents a new fractal-based computer-aided detection(CAD) algorithm for characterizing various breast tissues in screening mammograms with a particular focus on distinguishing between architectural distortion and normal breast parenchyma. The proposed approach is based on two underlying assumptions: i) monitoring the variation pattern of fractal dimension, with the changes of the image resolution, is a useful tool to distinguish textural patterns of breast tissue ii) the bidimensional empirical mode decomposition (BEMD) algorithm appropriately generates a multiresolution representation of the mammogram. The proposed CAD has been tested using different validation datasets of mammographic regions of interest (ROIs) extracted from the Digital Database for Screening Mammography (DDSM) database. The validation ROI datasets contain architectural distortion(AD), normal breast tissue, and AD surrounding tissue. The highest classification performance, in terms of area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, of Az = 0.95 was achieved when the proposed approach applied to distinguish 187 architectural distortion depicting regions from 2191 normal breast parenchyma regions. The obtained results validate the underlying hypothesis and demonstrate that effectiveness of capturing the variation of the fractal dimension measurements within an appropriate multiscale representation of the digital mammogram. Results also reveal that this tool has the potential of prescreening other key and common mammographic signs of early breast cancer.