Breast density an important part of check
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.