Awareness of breast density and its impact on breast cancer detection and risk

Deborah J. Rhodes, Carmen Radecki Breitkopf, Jeanette Y. Ziegenfuss, Sarah M. Jenkins, Celine M. Vachon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Purpose Legislation mandating disclosure of breast density (BD) information has passed in 21 states; however, actual awareness of BD and knowledge of its impact on breast cancer detection and risk are unknown. Methods We conducted a national cross-sectional survey administered in English and Spanish using a probability-based sample of screening-age women, with oversampling of Connecticut, the only state with BD legislation in effect for > 1 year before the survey. Results Of 2,311 women surveyed, 65% responded. Overall, 58% of women had heard of BD, 49% knew that BD affects breast cancer detection, and 53% knew that BD affects cancer risk. After multivariable adjustment, increased BD awareness was associated with white non-Hispanic race/ethnicity (Hispanic v white non-Hispanic: odds ratio [OR], 0.23; P < .001), household income (OR, 1.07 per category increase; P < .001), education (OR, 1.19 per category increase; P < .001), diagnostic evaluation after a mammogram (OR, 2.64; P < .001), and postmenopausal hormone therapy (OR, 1.69; P = .002). Knowledge of the masking effect of BD was associated with higher household income (OR, 1.10; P < .001), education (OR, 1.22; P = .01), prior breast biopsy (OR, 2.16; P < .001), and residing in Connecticut (Connecticut v other states: OR, 3.82; P = .003). Connecticut residents were also more likely to have discussed their BD with a health care provider (67% v 43% for residents of other US states; P = .001). Conclusion Disparities in BD awareness and knowledge exist by race/ethnicity, education, and income. BD legislation seems to be effective in increasing knowledge of BD impact on breast cancer detection. These findings support continued and targeted efforts to improve BD awareness and knowledge among women eligible for screening mammography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1143-1150
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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