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    How much do women understand about breast density? And other current research


    According to a national cross-sectional survey, women’s awareness of breast density (BD) varies by race/ethnicity, education, and income, despite laws in 21 states mandating disclosure of the information.

    Researchers at the Mayo Clinic administered the survey in English and Spanish to 2311 women, using a probability-based sample of individuals who were of age for breast cancer screening. Connecticut was oversampled because it was the only state with legislation on the books for more than a year before the survey started that mandated disclosure of BD information.

    More: Do women understand mammograms?

    Of the 1502 women (65%) who responded, 58% had heard of BD, 53% knew that BD affects the risk of cancer, and 49% knew that BD can impact the detection of breast cancer. After adjusting for multiple variables, increased BD awareness was associated with white non-Hispanic race/ethnicity (Hispanic v white non-Hispanic: odds ratio [OR], 0.23; P < .001), education (OR, 1.19 per category increase; P < .001), diagnostic evaluation after a mammogram (OR, 2.64; P < .001), postmenopausal hormone therapy (OR, 1.69; P = .002), and household income (OR, 1.07 per category increase; P < .001).

    Women who knew about the masking effect of BD were more likely to have a prior breast biopsy (OR, 2.16; P < .001), to be educated (OR, 1.22; P = .01), to have a higher household income (OR, 1.10; P < .001), and to reside in Connecticut (Connecticut v other states: OR, 3.82; P = .003). Residents of Connecticut were also more likely to have previously discussed their BD with their healthcare provider than were residents of other states (67% v 43% for residents of other US states; P = .001).

    The researchers concluded that awareness and knowledge of BD vary according to a woman’s income, education, and race/ethnicity. Mandatory disclosure laws, they believe, will help increase knowledge about BD and its impact on breast cancer detection. 

    NEXT: NICHD dedicates money for placenta research.

    Judith M. Orvos, ELS
    Judith M. Orvos, ELS, is a a BELS-certified medical writer and editor and an editorial consultant for Contemporary OB/GYN.
    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.


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