Breast screening: Should density matter?

THIS year marks the 20th anniversary of the Australian Government’s establishment of the National Program for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer, now known as BreastScreen Australia.

During the past 20 years, knowledge of breast cancer epidemiology has grown, along with the best methods for screening and diagnosis using mammograms and other techniques.

Mounting evidence suggests that highly dense breast tissue is linked to a far greater lifetime risk of breast cancer, more aggressive tumours, and a 50% chance of missed tumours in screening.

Yet women who have breast tissue that appears dense on a mammogram are not monitored any differently from other women under current national breast cancer screening procedures.

And while there are clear processes to follow when abnormal cells are found in mammographic screens of asymptomatic women, there is no strategy in place for when higher breast density is identified.

Is it

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