Women waiting for their mammogram were given a breast density survey to complete:

Key findings: 

Sample size – 300 patients.
40 per cent had not heard the term ‘breast density’ before.
Of those who had heard of breast density, 29 per cent and 70 per cent respectively knew it could increase risk of breast cancer and it could mask breast cancer. 
33 per cent of women who had heard of breast density were aware it could not be determined by touch or feel. 
Among all respondents, 80 per cent were interested to know their own breast density. 

Dr Avisak Bhattacharjee, a Consultant Surgeon and Surgical Epidemiologist said the ongoing study found the overwhelming majority of women are unaware of their breast density.

“Western Australia is the only Australian state which informs women about their breast density as part of breast cancer screening tests,” Dr Bhattacharjee said.

“The USA and most of the provinces of Canada have passed legislation making it compulsory for breast cancer screening reports to include information about a patient’s breast density.

“However, most women in Australia are in the dark when it comes to their breast density.

“Breast density is important for two key reasons. It’s an important risk predictor for breast cancer and can hide a tumor on a mammogram.

“The higher a patient’s breast density, the higher the chance of missing a lump in a mammogram.

“It’s also impossible to determine breast density without having a mammogram as it has no correlation to the size and feel of a breast.

“Without breast density notification, women are not getting a full picture of their breast health.

“It’s time we had a serious discussion about the benefits of breast density notification and whether it should become a compulsory component of breast cancer screening reports for all Australian women.”

Dr Bhattacharjee’s research was unveiled at the the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress in Adelaide (1-5 May).

The Congress is the largest multi-disciplinary surgical meeting held in the southern hemisphere and brings together some of the top surgical and medical minds from across Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and the rest of the world.

For more information about the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress, please visit: https://asc.surgeons.org/


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