Women’s Awareness of Breast Density Varies

March 3, 2015

Breast density awareness is more common in women who are educated, had higher household income, and have health insurance.

Women’s awareness of their breast tissue density varies according to race/ethnicity, education, and income, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN conducted a national cross-sectional survey to determine if there were differences among groups of women regarding their knowledge of their breast tissue density.

The survey was sent to 2,311 women, between 40 and 74 years old, in both English and Spanish. A total of 1,506 women responded (response rate of 65%). The location of respondents did not affect the response rate, however more respondents were white non-Hispanic (70.6%), slightly older (mean age 55), wealthier, and had higher education levels than did the non-responders. They also were more likely to have health insurance (89%) and to have had a routine healthcare visit within the previous two years (83.3%).

The results showed that more than half of the women who responded (58%) were aware of breast density and slightly less than half (49%) knew how breast density could affect breast cancer detection; 53% were aware of the increased breast cancer risk associated with dense breast tissue.

The women who were most aware of the masking effect of breast density tended to have a higher household income level, higher education level, or had undergone a breast biopsy previously and/or had received hormone replacement therapy. Women from Connecticut, which was the first state to pass breast density legislation in 2009, were also more aware of breast density effects on breast cancer screening compared with women from other states.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"32631","attributes":{"alt":"Deborah Rhodes, MD","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_3870848932431","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"3443","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"Deborah Rhodes, MD","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

"The results of our study support the need for continued efforts to improve awareness of breast density and its implications on screening among women who are eligible for screening mammograms," lead author, Deborah Rhodes, MD, a consultant in preventive medicine at Mayo Clinic, said in a release.

The researchers concluded that women’s awareness of breast density and its relationship with breast cancer screening varied according to income, race/ethnicity, and education. However, legislation that educated women about breast density, as in Connecticut, did increase awareness. “These findings support continued and targeted efforts to improve BD awareness and knowledge among women eligible for screening mammography,” the authors wrote.