Prof Gelareh Farshid from SA Pathology was the moderator.
The audience was invited to vote "yes" or "no" to the question "Breast density - Should we tell the women?" on the conference App before the debate started. Each speaker had 4 minutes to state their case, and once all speakers had presented, the audience was invited to comment on their own perspective or ask questions of the speakers. Following the discussion, the audience was again invited to vote on the same question.
The against team argued that there was no clear evidence that density inform would benefit women, but there was clear evidence that it could cause harms, such as false positives associated with supplementary screening. They argued that without a clear direction for what women can do about high breast density, providing them with this information will cause anxiety and this is also considered a harm, These points are outlined in the BreastScreen Australia and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists position statements published in 2016. The team in favour of density inform argued that full disclosure is an obligation of Australian medical practice, that withholding information damages patient trust, and that the Western Australia policy of density inform has not resulted in the harms and anxiety that many may have feared, and could be used as a foundation on which to build a national policy.
Keen to know more about breast density but don't want to wade through a bunch of technical papers? Well, we have the solution! This lecture by INFORMD member A/Prof Wendy Ingman, from the University of Adelaide, covers pretty much everything you want to know about breast density - what it is, what is the association with cancer, why it hides cancers on a mammogram, and the current Australian position on breast density.
The lecture was made for McGrath Breast Care Nurses and is part of a series of lectures on the McGrath Foundation eLearning platform which has received CPD accreditation from the Australian College of Nursing. The McGrath Foundation have kindly agreed to let InforMD share the lecture online so anyone wanting to learn about breast density can do so from the comfort of their own home. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy!
Please be aware that since the lecture was filmed in May 2017, there have been some changes to the BreastScreen WA information on breast density. The updated information for women can be found here, and the updated information for GPs can be found here. A significant change is the addition of the following statement to the information for GPs regarding supplementary screening for women with dense breasts "Women at intermediate risk of breast cancer due to a family history, a personal history of breast cancer, or other risk factors including premalignant lesions such as lobular neoplasia may benefit from regular supplemental whole breast ultrasound."
Why does the United States have Dense Breast "Inform" Laws? What I learned and why it matters
BreastScreen Australia conference debate "Breast density - Should we tell the women?"
InforMD - a new initiative to raise awareness about breast density
Breast density in screening, detection and incidence of breast cancer
The global breast density conversation: Meet one woman driving change in the United Kingdom
What to expect at a mammogram appointment