Feature | October 13, 2014

Most People Unaware That Women With Dense Breasts are More Likely to Develop Breast Cancer

GE study also indicates less than half of adults can name common signs and symptoms of breast cancer

October 13, 2014 — Three out of four people are not aware that dense breast tissue increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new global study from GE Healthcare exploring perspectives on breast cancer with an emphasis on understanding awareness around dense breast tissue and the most common symptoms of breast cancer. The “Value of Knowing” global survey of 10,000 adults across 10 countries highlighted a significant lack of awareness about the breast cancer risk associated with having dense breast tissue. Women with dense breast tissue have four to five times higher risk of developing breast cancer, yet only one out of five people globally has seen, heard, or read about dense breast tissue in the last six months. Further, less than half of adults are confident in naming some of the most common signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

“If a woman learns that she has dense breasts, it is important for her to talk with her healthcare provider about her risk and options for further imaging or management,” said Susan Brown, managing director of health and science education for Susan G. Komen, the world’s largest breast cancer organization. “Actions like the pending national legislation in the United States that requires doctors to inform their patients if they have dense breasts – and the related risks – will assist in the process of continuing to educate and empower women about their breast health.”

 

Dense Breast Tissue: An Important Risk Factor for Breast Cancer and Not as Widely Understood

Breast tissue is comprised of fat and connective tissue. Some women have more fat than connective tissue, while others have more connective tissue than fat. Dense breast tissue, which is common and found in 40 percent of women, is comprised of less fat and more connective tissue.

“The results of this research highlight an opportunity to further encourage awareness of dense breast tissue and empower women to take an active role in their breast health,” said Jessie Jacob, M.D., chief medical officer of breast health, GE Healthcare. “Although the importance of breast cancer screening is well-known, this survey suggests that dense breast tissue, a relevant risk factor, is not widely understood.”

 

U.S., U.K., and Japan Among Least Aware of Dense Breast Risk Factor: China and Russia More Aware

Interestingly, those respondents in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan were least aware of any links between dense breast tissue and increased breast cancer risk (19%, 9%, 13%, and 2%, respectively). Respondents in Indonesia, Russia, and China were much more aware of a link between breast cancer and dense breast tissue (58%, 60% and 34%, respectively), and of those countries, Russia and China had the highest awareness of dense breast tissue actually increasing one’s risk for developing breast cancer. Additionally, the data in the GE Healthcare study also showed respondents in China, Russia, and Indonesia ranked the highest in having seen media coverage of dense breast tissue in the past six months (37%, 32%, and 44%, respectively). Furthermore, Japan, the U.S., U.K., and Australia cited very low levels of media attention over the same time period about the risks of dense breast tissue.

 

Over 50 Percent of Respondents Can’t Name the Six Common Symptoms of Breast Cancer

The research also probed respondents’ recognition of common breast cancer symptoms. While a majority recognized a lump in the breast (71 percent) or a lump in the armpit (61 percent) as symptoms, less than half of those surveyed were able to identify other very common symptoms, including breast discharge, or changes to breast or nipple such as skin dimpling and rash. “As we continue to make progress in general breast cancer awareness, it is always critical to reinforce basic information about the disease,” said Dr. Connie Lehman, professor and vice chair and section chief of breast imaging, University of Washington Dept. of Radiology. “Understanding the symptoms of breast cancer is critical to supporting early detection of the disease.”

 

Screening Better Understood in Disease Detection, but Not as Well Understood in Identifying Dense Breast Tissue

More than half of those surveyed correctly understand that dense breast tissue can be identified through a routine mammogram. That said, nearly half also incorrectly believe that dense breast tissue can be identified through regular self-exams for lumps and irregularities. “Of women who are aware of dense breast tissue, there is still confusion regarding supplemental screening,” said Jacob. “We believe that more education is needed around dense breast tissue and other risk factors so that women can have more informed discussions with their physicians about their individual risk profile and the management of their health.”

“Since both dense breast tissue and cancers can appear white on a mammogram, a cancer can be hidden by dense breast tissue,” said Lehman. “We know modern digital mammography performs better in women with dense breast tissue compared to older methods of mammography. And, important research is being done to determine if other technologies such as tomosynthesis, ultrasound, or MRI may be beneficial to select groups of women.”

GE Healthcare’s global study is in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.

For more information: www.newsroom.gehealthcare.com

Related Content

Magseed magnetic marker
Technology | Tumor Tracking Systems | July 20, 2018
Endomag, the surgical guidance company, received 510(k) clearance from the U.S.
Fujifilm to Host Pediatric Imaging Best Practices Symposium at AHRA 2018
News | Pediatric Imaging | July 18, 2018
Fujifilm Medical Systems U.S.A. Inc. announced that it will offer educational opportunities and exhibit its latest...
Breast Cancer Follow-up Imaging Varies Widely
News | Breast Imaging | July 13, 2018
July 13, 2018 — Follow-up imaging for women...
Invision Diagnostics Installs VolparaEnterprise Software to Enhance Mammography Image Quality
News | Mammography | July 11, 2018
Invision Diagnostics, a provider of mobile mammography services across North and South Carolina, announced that it is...
Breast Cancer Studies Ignore Race, Socioeconomic Factors
News | Women's Health | July 11, 2018
A new commentary appearing in the July issue of Cancer Causes & Control points to evidence that social factors help...
Jeffrey Hoffmeister, M.D.

Jeffrey Hoffmeister, M.D.

Feature | Breast Imaging | July 05, 2018 | By Jeffrey Hoffmeister, M.D.
When women reach age 40, an annual mammogram becomes a necessary part of their healthcare ritual — regardless if they...
Researcher Investigates Eliminating Radiation for HER2-Positive Breast Cancer
News | Radiation Therapy | July 02, 2018
Researchers at The University of Kansas Cancer Center have launched a clinical trial that eliminates radiation from the...
Norwegian Study Confirms Higher Cancer Rate in Women with Dense Breast Tissue
News | Breast Density | July 02, 2018
A large Norwegian study using automated breast density measurements found that women with mammographically dense breast...
3-D Imaging and Computer Modeling Capture Breast Duct Development

An image of a developing mammary duct. Image courtesy of Andrew Ewald.

News | Breast Imaging | June 28, 2018
A team of biologists has joined up with civil engineers to create what is believed to be the first 3-D computer model...
FDA Article Underscores Benefits of Adequate Breast Compression for Mammography Image Quality
News | Mammography | June 26, 2018
Inadequate breast commission played a role in up to 38 percent of mammogram image quality deficiencies, according to a...
Overlay Init