Breast Density Awareness, Knowledge, and Attitudes Among US Women: National Survey Results Across 5 Years

Deborah J. Rhodes, Sarah M. Jenkins, Carrie B. Hruska, Celine M. Vachon, Carmen Radecki Breitkopf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: To assess changes in breast density (BD) awareness, knowledge, and attitudes among US women over a period of 5 years. Methods: Using a probability-based web panel representative of the US population, we administered an identical BD survey in 2012 and 2017 to women aged 40 to 74 years. Results: In 2017, 65.8% had heard of BD (versus 57.5% in 2012; P = .0002). BD awareness in both 2012 and 2017 was significantly associated with race, income, and education. Among women aware of BD in 2017, 76.5% had knowledge of BD's relationship to masking (versus 71.5% in 2012; P = .04); 65.5% had knowledge of BD's relationship to cancer risk (versus 58.5%; P = .009); and 47.3% had discussed BD with a provider (versus 43.1% in 2012; P = .13). After multivariable adjustment, residence in a state with BD legislation was associated in 2017 with knowledge of BD's relationship to risk but not to masking. Most women wanted to know their BD (62.5% in 2017 versus 59.8% in 2012; P = .46); this information was anticipated to cause anxiety in 44.8% (versus 44.9% in 2012; P = .96); confusion in 35.9% (versus 43.0%; P = .002); and feeling informed in 89.7% (versus 90.4%; P = .64). Over three-quarters supported federal BD legislation in both surveys. Response rate to the 2017 survey was 55% (1,502 of 2,730) versus 65% (1,506 of 2,311) in 2012. Conclusion: Although BD awareness has increased, important disparities persist. Knowledge of BD's impact on risk has increased; knowledge about masking and BD discussions with providers have not. Most women want to know their BD, would not feel anxious or confused as a result of knowing, and would feel empowered to make decisions. The federal BD notification legislation presents an opportunity to improve awareness and knowledge and encourage BD conversations with providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-404
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American College of Radiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Breast density
  • breast density awareness
  • breast density notification legislation
  • disparities
  • supplemental screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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