Many Radiologists Still Unsure About Breast Density Legislation

May 23, 2017

Breast density legislation is still causing confusion and controversy among radiologists.

Considerable confusion and controversy regarding breast density persists, even among practicing radiologists, according to a study published in the journal Academic Radiology. Researchers from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire sought to assess radiologists' knowledge about breast density legislation, as well as perceived practice changes resulting from the enactment of breast density legislation. The researchers sent by email a survey to 523 members of the New England Roentgen Ray Society. They received 96 responses, an 18 percent response rate. The survey questions addressed radiologist knowledge of breast density legislation, knowledge of breast density as a risk factor for breast cancer, recommendations for supplemental screening, and perceived practice changes resulting from density notification legislation. The results showed 73 percent of respondents practiced in a state with breast density legislation. Sixty-nine percent felt breast density notification increased patient anxiety about breast cancer; 74 percent believed the legislation also increased patient understanding of the effect of breast density on mammographic sensitivity, and 66 percent believed it had the same effect on the provider. Radiologist knowledge of the relative risk of breast cancer when comparing breasts of different density was variable. The researchers concluded there remains considerable confusion and controversy regarding breast density persists, even among practicing radiologists.