Radiologists join call to notify women on breast density

2 minute read

The RANZCR has thrown its weight behind the need to give women all the information available.

Radiologists have joined the call to mandate the reporting of mammographic breast density information in both screening and diagnostic settings.

Currently only South Australia reports breast density after a survey found that over 90% of SA women wanted the information. Just 2% opted out of being updated on their breast density at future appointments.

BreastScreen Australia’s most recent position statement on the issue, however, continues to recommend against routinely recording or providing supplemental testing for breast density. Limitations in measuring density, it argues, could result in women receiving inaccurate information and create undue anxiety about the mammogram having missed a cancer.

Now the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists has thrown its weight into the debate, issuing an updated position statement emphasising the importance of “informed decision-making in breast health”.

“Mammographic breast density (MBD), a key determinant in cancer detection, varies depending upon the proportions of fibrous, glandular, and fatty tissue within the breast,” said the College announcement.

“RANZCR recommends regular breast cancer screening for all women, irrespective of MBD, and highlights the need for individual risk assessments considering the various risk factors for breast cancer.

“RANZCR supports the consideration of supplemental imaging tools, such as ultrasound, tomosynthesis, contrast enhanced mammography and MRI, for women with dense breasts.”

The College said it “invites discussion and collaboration to enhance breast cancer screening strategies, ultimately working towards a future risk-based model”.

Meanwhile a Queensland trial which looks at how participants receive information about their dense breasts after screening and the health service impacts, continues to recruit 3000 participants.

The trial is delivered by BreastScreen Queensland Sunshine Coast, in partnership with the University of Sydney and will run for two years.

“We are interested in what are the benefits and harms of telling or not telling [women about their dense breasts] and the implications for women,” said the trial’s lead researcher Dr Brooke Nichol, from the University of Sydney.

“Then we’ll do a subgroup analyses between those two interventions to see whether or not one made a difference or not and women’s perceptions of that.” 

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