Women’s Breast Density Knowledge Varies Between Women With Dense and Non-Dense Breasts

New BCSC study finds disparity in personal density knowledge between women with dense and non-dense breasts, which impacts their desire for supplemental screening.

Posted by Rebecca Smith at 2:00 PM on Apr 14, 2022


In a new BCSC study published in The Journal of the American College of Radiology, researchers assessed accuracy of women’s breast density knowledge. Previous work had shown mixed results in women’s understanding of breast density but none had incorporated clinical records to confirm accuracy of personal density knowledge.

The researchers surveyed 1,528 women 40-74 years old who did not have a prior breast cancer and were living in a state with density reporting legislation in place. They assessed accuracy of breast density knowledge by comparing self-reported breast density to clinically assessed density collected from 15 BCSC mammography facilities in 3 states. They also measured understanding of the implications of breast density, and density’s impact on women’s future screening intentions.

They found 76% of women with dense breasts correctly knew their density while only 14% of women with non-dense breasts did. Further, 34% of women with non-dense breasts believed they had dense breasts, and women who believed they had dense breasts were more likely than women who believed they had non-dense breasts to want supplemental screening (29% vs. 15%; p=0.002).  Lower education was highly associated with a lower chance of correctly knowing one’s own density suggesting that pending national legislation for density notifications should incorporate language accessible to a wide range of literacy levels. Density reporting to women in all breast density categories compared with only reporting to women with dense breasts was associated with an increased odds of breast density knowledge for women with non-dense breasts (OR: 6.32; 95% CI: 3.39-11.80). As national density legislation is rolled out, the benefits of notifications for all breast densities should be considered. The study’s results highlight the importance of decision support tools to keep clinicians informed of evolving evidence on who may benefit from supplemental screening and how to engage with women in shared decision making.

Smith RE, Sprague B, Henderson LM, Kerlikowske K, Miglioretti DL, Buist DSM, Wernli KJ, Onega T, Schifferdecker K, Jackson-Nefertiti G, Johnson D, Budesky J, Tosteson ANA. Breast Density Knowledge in a Screening Mammography Population Exposed to Density Notification. J Am Coll Radiol. 2022 Mar 24:S1546-1440(22)00248-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2022.02.025. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35341697. [Link]

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Posted by: Rebecca Smith