Density matters. Let’s talk about detecting and preventing breast cancer.
Almost 8% of women aged between 40-74 years have extremely high breast density which can make it harder for doctors to detect breast cancer on a screening mammogram. Breast density (also known as mammographic density) is the amount of white and bright regions seen on a mammogram, and according to a newly formed group of breast cancer researchers, it matters.
INFORMD (INformation FORum on Mammographic Density) was established by Australian breast cancer researchers who are aware of the importance of breast density in screening, diagnosis, and prevention of breast cancer, and we now want to start a conversation with the wider Australian community about breast density.
Why is breast density important?
Breast cancer is more likely to develop in women with dense breast tissue, but not many women know if they have dense breast tissue. It’s important to start the conversation and help women get informed about breast density so they can make the right choices for their health.
Dense breasts have less fatty tissue and more non-fatty tissue, such as more glands that make and drain milk, compared to breasts that aren't dense. These non-fatty regions show up white and bright on the mammogram. Tumours also show as white on a mammogram, and this means it is harder for radiologists to detect tumours in breasts with denser tissue. Women with highly dense breast tissue are at risk of having tumours missed at the time of screening. To learn more about breast density, read our frequently asked questions.
Breast density can be measured at the time of mammographic screening however, it is not clear how best to use that information to aid early detection and prevention of the disease. There is considerable research ongoing in this area and in the meantime, we think it is important to start a conversation about breast density to help inform women about this very important risk factor that in future, could improve mammographic screening and provide better breast cancer outcomes. The aim of INFORMD is to discover, provide and discuss the most current information on breast density and keep Australians up to date on new information as it becomes available. Our ultimate aim is to increase prevention and early detection of breast cancer through increased understanding and better utilisation of breast cancer screening in Australia to lower the impact of this disease.