Feature | March 28, 2013

Women with Dense Breasts Welcome Additional Screening

Four different categories of breast density: fatty (top left), scattered fibroglandular (top right), heterogeneously dense (bottom left) and extremely dense (bottom right).

This image shows fatty breast density.

This image shows scattered fibroglandular breast density.

This image shows heterogeneously dense breast density.

This image shows extremely dense breast density.

December 11, 2012 — A survey of women undergoing routine screening mammography found that many of them would be interested in pursuing additional screening tests if notified they had dense breast tissue, despite the possibility of false positives, invasive procedures, and out-of-pocket costs, according to a clniical study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

"Our study highlights the need for patient education regarding breast density," said Jafi Lipson, M.D., assistant professor of radiology at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif.

Recent studies have found that dense breast tissue is a strong independent risk factor for breast cancer. Breasts are composed of fat and fibroglandular tissue. Dense breast fibroglandular tissue appears white on a mammogram. Abnormalities and tumors also appear white on mammograms, causing them to be difficult to spot in dense breasts until the cancers are much larger and possibly in advanced stages.

"We hope this study raises awareness that dense breast tissue is a risk factor for breast cancer and that alternative technologies, including automated whole-breast ultrasound and contrast-enhanced mammography, are available to aid in screening women with dense breasts," said Haatal B. Dave, M.D., M.S., resident physician at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

For the study, Lipson and Dave surveyed 105 women undergoing routine screening mammography at an outpatient radiology clinic. The women were asked if they knew their breast density and were informed about the association between higher breast density and increased risk of breast cancer. Women were then asked a set of questions about whether or not they would be interested in additional screening tests, such as automated whole-breast ultrasound or contrast-enhanced mammography, if they found out that they had dense breasts.

Of the 105 women surveyed, 76 percent were unaware of their breast density. Forty-two percent of the women had dense or extremely dense breast tissue. A majority of the surveyed women showed interest in the additional screening, despite the chance of increased false positives, invasive biopsy procedures and potential out-of-pocket expense.

Dave noted that educating the general public about the association between breast density and breast cancer risk is important, but that supplemental screenings are a matter of some debate in the medical and political realms. She added that many states do not require insurance companies to cover the cost for supplemental tests due to the lack of evidence of their mortality benefit.

Currently five states, including Connecticut, New York, Texas, California and Virginia, have passed bills that require radiologists to inform women of their breast density if they are found to have dense breast tissue. In 2011, a similar bill was introduced on a national level, and more than 10 other states have legislation pending.

Related Content

Hippocampal Sparing Prevents Whole-Brain Radiotherapy Cognitive Side Effects
News | Radiation Therapy | October 23, 2018
Whole-brain radiotherapy can be delivered more safely to patients with brain metastases by avoiding the hippocampus,...
Fewer, larger individual doses of radiation lead to similar adverse effects to normal tissue after 10 years as with conventional radiation therapy for early breast cancer
News | ASTRO | October 22, 2018
In a 10-year study of women who received radiation therapy to treat early-stage breast cancer, those receiving fewer,
Explaining the Mammography Quality Standards Act
Feature | Mammography | October 16, 2018
The Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) was enacted to improve the quality of mammography and ensure that all...
CT Offers Non-Invasive Alternative for Complex Coronary Disease Treatment Planning
News | CT Angiography (CTA) | October 16, 2018
A new study published in the European Heart Journal shows computed tomography (CT) can be a useful aid in heart team...

Images from computed tomography (CT) colonography show segmented abdominal aortic calcification measured with semiautomated CT tool on coronal image. Within region of interest over aorta selected by user, tool automatically segments and quantifies aortic calcification (shown in blue). 

Image Credit: O’Connor S D, Graffy P M, Zea R, et al. Does nonenhanced CT-based quantification of abdominal aortic calcification outperform the Framingham Risk Score in predicting cardiovascular event sin asymptomatic adults? Radiology doi: 10.1148/radiol.2018180562. Published online Oct. 2, 2018. © RSNA.

News | Computed Tomography (CT) | October 12, 2018
Computed tomography (CT)-based measures of calcification in the abdominal aorta are strong predictors of heart attacks...
iCAD Announces Positive Clinical Results for Artificial Intelligence Tomosynthesis Technology
News | Mammography | October 11, 2018
iCAD Inc. announced positive clinical results of its new digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) cancer detection software,...
"Where's My Mammogram?" Campaign Helps Women Own Breast Health Records
News | Breast Imaging | October 10, 2018
October 10, 2018 — Mammosphere launched “Where’s My Mammogram?,” a public service campaign to help women obtain copie
DenseBreast-info.org Launches European Expansion
News | Breast Density | October 10, 2018
DenseBreast-info.org (DB-I) announced the launch of its international expansion for European medical providers. The...
Surgery, Radiation Therapy Equally Effective in Treating Oropharyngeal Cancer
News | Radiation Therapy | October 09, 2018
A new study by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center found no major long-term differences in the effectiveness...