The non-profit organization DenseBreast-info, recently launched a website that provides education to women and their doctors who are often confused after a mammogram revealing that a woman has dense breasts.
The website can be found a www.DenseBreast-info.org and provides information that helps women and their healthcare providers to “Get smart about being dense.”
Notification laws about breast density have been legislated in 22 US states, with the newest law being recently approved in the state of North Dakota. These legislative actions allow women to access information about breast density in the letter they receive after undergoing a mammogram.
”Receiving a notification about dense breasts can leave a woman and her doctor with more questions than answers,” said in a recent news release DenseBreast-info’s executive director, JoAnn Pushkin, whose own experience with breast density led her to lobby successfully for the introduction of New York’s Breast Density Inform law. “As states passed laws about dense breast notification, it became clear that this is just the first step in an education process. Our nonprofit coalition developed this comprehensive new website to provide a single source of further education.”
Wendie Berg, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific advisor for the website, is an expert radiologist at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She also contributes to the JoanLunden.com website, where she writes on breast density issues.
“We are hoping that through this website, women will understand that if they have dense breasts, additional screening beyond a mammogram may be recommended,” said Berg, who has been the principal investigator on major studies in breast imaging. “We also want them to know that in most cases where extra testing is done, women are found not to have breast cancer. The website is meant to provide women and their care providers with the tools they need to choose the most appropriate screening, based on a woman’s breast density and other risk factors.”
Berg has recently joined the ranks of breast cancer survivors, after her annual mammograms did not detect early-stage cancer because she has dense breasts. Due to her family history and other associated risk factors, an MRI screening was performed, which eventually detected her breast cancer.
“Being a researcher and a radiologist gives you one perspective on dense breasts and being a woman with dense breasts gives you another,” said Berg. “My experience with breast cancer gave me the full picture and compelled me to make women’s education about breast density a top priority.”
Mammograms are the first breast density assessment. Estimations show that 40% of women aged above 40 years have dense breasts, however, mammography fails to detect more than half of the cancers present in this population.
Women with dense breasts are four to six time more prone to develop breast cancer. To increase detection of early stage breast cancer in women with dense breasts, ultrasounds or MRI should be performed in addition to mammography.