Breast Density Knowledge and Previous Cancer Treatment's Impact on Willingness to Delay Treatment for Pre-Operative Imaging

New BCSC study finds that knowledge of breast density does not impact women’s willingness to delay treatment for additional imaging but experience with previous breast cancer treatment does

Posted by Rebecca Smith at 4:00 PM on May 13, 2024


Over the past fifteen years a majority of states implemented breast density notification laws. It is unclear how exposure to breast density notification impacts women’s knowledge of their personal breast density or preferences for breast imaging testing.  This is important to understand because in the fall of 2024, an FDA amendment to the Mammography Quality Standards Act will require that radiology facilities provide breast density notifications to all women undergoing mammography.

A new Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) survey study of women recently diagnosed with breast cancer published in Breast Cancer Research examined whether women’s breast density knowledge influences their willingness to undergo pre-operative imaging to detect additional cancer in their breasts.

Pre-operative breast imaging usually includes a waiting period for results that may inform cancer treatment planning but may also result in delayed treatment. Balancing the benefits and harms of further imaging with breast cancer treatment delay is dependent on a woman’s clinical scenario and individual preferences.

The BCSC study found that knowledge of personal breast density does not impact women’s willingness to delay treatment for additional imaging beyond a typical clinical wait time of 6 weeks, but aspects of previous breast cancer treatment experience do have an impact. This should be considered when tailoring clinical communications for treatment planning with women recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  


Smith RE, Sprague BL, Henderson LM, Kerlikowske K, Miglioretti DL, Wernli KJ, Onega T, diFlorio-Alexander RM, Tosteson ANA. Breast density knowledge and willingness to delay treatment for pre-operative breast cancer imaging among women with a personal history of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 2024 Apr 29;26(1):73. doi: 10.1186/s13058-024-01820-x. PMID: 38685119; PMCID: PMC11057127. [Link]


By: Rebecca Smith, MS