Dense breast tissue is a strong independent risk factor for breast cancer, and educating the general public about the association between breast density and breast cancer risk is important, according to Dr. Haatal Dave of Yale University and colleague Dr. Jafi Lipson of Stanford University.
"There is a need for patient education regarding breast density, the associated risk of breast cancer, and opportunities to become involved in ongoing research of alternative screening modalities," the team wrote.
Dave and Lipson surveyed 105 women undergoing routine screening mammography, asking them if they knew their breast density status and were informed about the association between higher breast density and increased risk of breast cancer. The team also asked women a set of questions about whether or not they would be interested in additional screening tests, such as whole-breast ultrasound or contrast-enhanced mammography, if they found out they have dense breasts.
Of the 105 women, 76% were unaware of their breast density, and 42% of the women had dense or extremely dense breast tissue. A majority of the surveyed women showed interest in the additional screening, despite an increased chance of false positives, biopsy procedures, and expense, Dave and Lipson found.
"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," Dave said in a statement.