Mammographic/breast density

gevansgevans MelbourneMember Posts: 4
There are a couple of shocking stories on this website describing diagnoses of advanced breast cancers despite the women receiving repeat and recent  'normal' mammogram reports. This is likely due to those women having mammographic/breast density. It refers to the amount of white and bright regions seen on a mammogram. Women with dense breast are not only at a greater risk of having breast cancer, they are less likely to have that cancer detected by mammogram.
WA is the only State in Australia where density is reported on a mammogram.
Many people think that women should not be told they have dense breasts unless evidence -based advice can be given on how to manage the density.  I think women have the right to know their density so that they can take steps to be closely monitored and to reduce other breast cancer risk factors. The information belongs to the woman and in my opinion should be given to the woman.
 What can you do? You can ask your referring doctor or screening provider to let you know if you have increased breast density for your age and whether you need extra screening measures e.g. ultrasound or MRI. You can learn from websites such as http://www.informd.org.au and http://www.areyoudense.org
For those already diagnosed with breast cancer it is very important for your sisters and daughters to be aware of breast density because there is evidence of a genetic link.

Brisbane women: A free public forum on mammographic density will be held on 
 Wednesday 22nd March 2017
6pm - 7:30pm
 Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
60 Musk Ave, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane

It is free but please register at https://qutmammographicpublicforum.eventbrite.com.au.

So what do you think? 



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Comments

  • UnicornkissesUnicornkisses Central CoastMember Posts: 274
    I am one of those woman.
     No one ever told me I had dense breast tissue until the final ultrasound mapping my cancer, where the technician commented how hard it was to see through my breast tissue. And even that mammogram and ultrasound showed a 3.2cm IDC as 1.9cm and did not show up the second 2.2cm IDC or the DCIS in that same breast. 
    And I had religiously had mammograms and ultrasounds for 10 years prior, the one before diagnosis was only 17 months prior.
    Had I known the significance of the dense tissue I would have approached my own checking differently and learnt more about my individual breast tissue.

    A different education approach needs to be taken. 
  • HarleyBHarleyB Member Posts: 70
    Yup!
    I also had mammograms for 12 years from the age of 40. They were all fine apparently. The last one was only a few months before I found my tumour myself. My own GP couldn't feel anything but trusted my judgement and so I had my first breast ultrasound and BINGO - there it was.
    Even then the first I knew about my dense breast tissue was when the doctor who did my core biopsy commented on how dense they were. He told me how lucky I was that I had felt the tumour as nothing was visible in the mammograms. 
    I am truly lucky as I was only Stage 1.
    But it could have been very different - the fact that I had a "clear" mammogram only a few months earlier meant that I initially ignored what I was feeling. When my doctor couldn't feel it I felt like an idiot and was about to apologise for wasting her time. 
    I wish I had known that I had dense breasts and that perhaps I should have been having ultrasounds as well. I wish I had known that due to the increased density the mammograms were not as reliable. While I was only Stage 1 I still had chemotherapy which may not have been necessary had the mammogram I had earlier that year or 2 years prior detected the cancer earlier.  
    I absolutely believe that women should be informed about their breast density and what that means.  

  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 2,806
    edited March 13
    I had a clear mammogram 5 weeks before finding a palpable lump. I'd been having mammograms for 10 years. Not once. ..even when recalled for a cyst did they ever tell me I had dense breasts and recomnend additional testing. They did tell my GP though. I know as he handed over my paper file (after I changed GPs) and there it was on mammogram reports to him. Did he tell me? No. Did they recommend additional ultrasounds, MRIs?..no. Did they suggest a referral to a breast surgeon for risk review?...no. This is despite my half sister dying of breast cancer and her daughter being diagnosed. This is despite 3 Aunts and 2 cousins all dying of either breast or ovarian cancer. 

    Am I annoyed...you betcha. But hey ...genetic mapping is done and Oh yeah...they are serious when screening my other sisters now. 

    Sorry rant over...but it's time we as women and patients are told all the facts and risks and what we can do to reduce it.

    Kath x
  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 754
    That's a perfectly good reason for a rant!! Just for info and according to my breast surgeon, your breasts get more transparent with age. My remaining one is now in a particularly fine stage of transparency, which is somewhat reassuring! No damn good at all, if you are 40 with dense breasts however.
  • ZoffielZoffiel Member Posts: 736
    "Lumpier than a kapok mattress" direct quote from the senior technician who still missed a tumour the size of my thumb during a breast ultrasound. Phhffft.
  • gevansgevans MelbourneMember Posts: 4
    Keep those horror stories and rants coming please. They add to my 'mission' of bringing this issue to the priority list of those who should be acting to change the situation that persists now. i.e.that women are not given important information that belongs to them.
  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 2,806
    Hense why both breasts were removed at my surgeons suggestion. If you couldn't see a palpable lump...then how the hell can you screen. So glad it's gone. My Aunt survived breast cancer, ovarian cancer and then only to die from a new primary breast cancer in the other breast. I wasn't chancing it. 
  • GlemmisGlemmis Member Posts: 196
    My tumour wasn't picked up on mammogram, only that my breast specialist had done his own ultrasound earlier & said there was a thickening so mammogram & formal ultrasound needed. Radiologist came in to do biopsy & said you don't have cancer but Professor wants biopsy, it is up to you, glad I did. It was only when I picked up my mammograms after chemo finished to take them to radiology I learnt tumour had been hiding behind dense breast tissue & I was never told! 
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