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

"Residual Echo" of Ancient Humans May Hold Clues to Mental Disorders

MRI data shows (left) areas of the skull preferentially affected by the amount of Neanderthal-derived DNA and (right) areas of the brain’s visual system in which Neanderthal gene variants influenced cortex folding (red) and gray matter volume (yellow). Image courtesy of Michael Gregory, M.D., NIMH Section on Integrative Neuroimaging

News | Neuro Imaging | July 26, 2017
Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have produced the first direct evidence that parts of...
New York Hospital Finds Significant Cost Savings With Toshiba’s Aquilion One CT
News | Computed Tomography (CT) | July 25, 2017
In five years, Kaleida Health’s Stroke Care Center (SCC) at the Gates Vascular Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., has realized...
Radiotherapy Prior to Surgery Reduces Secondary Tumor Risk in Early-Stage Breast Cancer Patients
News | Radiation Therapy | July 24, 2017
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers launched a first-of-its-kind study comparing the long-term benefits of radiation...
Electronic Brachytherapy Comparable to Mohs Surgery in Early-Stage Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Treatment
News | Brachytherapy Systems | July 20, 2017
July 20, 2017 — Rates of recurrence in early-stage non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) patients were virtually identical
3-D Vascular Ultrasound Quantifies Plaque Burden to Estimate Cardiovascular Risk
News | Cardiovascular Ultrasound | July 20, 2017
In a large, first-of-its-kind population, researchers found an experimental technique known as three-dimensional...
Kubtec Launches New Website For Digital Imaging and Irradiation Products
News | Digital Radiography (DR) | July 20, 2017
Kubtec announced the launch a new website focused on the applications of digital X-ray imaging and irradiation for...
Low Doses of Radiation Could Harm Cardiovascular Health
News | Radiation Dose Management | July 17, 2017
Ionizing radiation, such as X-rays, has a harmful effect on the cardiovascular system even at doses equivalent to...
PET/CT Tracer Identifies Vulnerable Lesions in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients

Example of a patient with an upper left lung NSCLC: A: FDG; B: FDG PET/CT; C: Planning radiotherapy based on FDG (66Gy) with BTVm (GTV), CTV and PTV; D: PET FMISO E: FMISO PET/CT; F: boost based on the FMISO PET (76Gy) with BTVh (biological hypoxic target volume) and PTV boost. Credit: QuantIF – LITIS EA 4108 – FR CNRS 3638, Henri Becquerel Cancer Center, Rouen, France

News | PET-CT | July 14, 2017
July 14, 2017 — Fluorine-18 (18F)-fluoromisonidazole (FMISO) is a positron emission tomography (PET)...
Insurance Coverage for CT Colonography Increases Likelihood of Screening
News | Colonoscopy Systems | July 12, 2017
People with insurance policies that cover computed tomography (CT) colonography for colorectal cancer screening are...
Overlay Init