Breast den­sity an im­por­tant part of check

Central Queensland News - - WEEKEND - For more in­for­ma­tion go to pinkhope.org.au.

RE­SEARCH re­veals nearly 85% of women are un­aware of their own breast den­sity, which could in­crease their risk of breast can­cer by up to four or five times.

The sur­vey find­ings by pre­ven­ta­tive health or­gan­i­sa­tion Pink Hope have prompted calls from ex­perts for women to be more “dense aware’’ and to pur­sue per­son­alised screen­ing op­tions in con­sul­ta­tion with their doc­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to the data, more than two mil­lion Aussie women have dense breasts – be­tween 40-50% of those aged 40-74.

Hav­ing dense breasts can ob­scure a lump on a stan­dard mam­mo­gram, mak­ing al­ter­na­tive, per­son­alised screen­ing op­tions nec­es­sary.

Sydney Breast Clinic chief ra­di­ol­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Mary Theresa Rickard said it was im­por­tant women took an in­ter­est in their own breast health. “The risks as­so­ci­ated with high mam­mo­graphic den­sity are im­por­tant, sec­ond only to those due to known gene mu­ta­tions,” she said.

Prof Rickard said the lack of un­der­stand­ing in the com­mu­nity stemmed from a lack of con­sis­tent mes­sag­ing and aware­ness re­gard­ing breast can­cer risk and breast den­sity.

She said Aus­tralia had been slow to act on breast den­sity. “In Aus­tralia the way to man­age breast den­sity has not yet been for­mally agreed to and so our lack of public ed­u­ca­tion and one-size-fits-all ap­proach to screen­ing with stan­dard mam­mog­ra­phy only per­sists. We need women to know this if they’re to be their best breast ad­vo­cate,” she said.

Pink Hope is en­cour­ag­ing women to ask if they have dense breasts when they un­dergo a mam­mo­gram.

Pink Hope founder Krys­tal Barter (pic­tured) said more gov­ern­men­tal sup­port needed to be of­fered to GPs.

“We know that women are be­ing re­ferred to their GP, but that GPs – as a re­sult of Aus­tralia’s lack of con­sis­tency on breast den­sity – cur­rently lack the es­tab­lished clin­i­cal guide­lines on breast den­sity needed to best sup­port them,” she said.

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