You are not Dense but Are your Breasts?

Breast Density Notification will lead to earlier detection, earlier treatment and better outcomes for Women with Dense Breasts.

If you look at the population that generally gets screening mammography, which is between age 40 and 74, it’s about half of all women. Breast Density cannot be determined externally, by touch or feel and has nothing to do with breast size or shape.

It is a major Breast Cancer risk factor and women need to know.

Cancer Research Expert Prof Jack Cuzick recently spoke to Dr Mark Porter on BBC radio. The full transcript is available in this link. chose the following excerpts from the BBC Radio transcripts (link to full transcript above)


Dr Mark Porter Inside Health BBC Radio


Professor Jack Cuzick from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) has received the Cancer Research UK Lifetime Achievement Award for his work

Dr Porter
What proportion of women have dense breasts?  I mean this grade three or four, the ones that you’d be more likely to worry about?
Prof Cuzik
It’s actually very common and really not known at all.
Dr Porter
Professor Jack Cuzik is Head of the Centre for Cancer Prevention at Queen Mary, University of London.
Prof Cuzik
In terms of the more common factors it dominates things like weight or like alcohol consumption.  It’s more important than things like hormone replacement therapy.  So it really is an important factor.  The problem with dense breasts is that it essentially makes, in some cases, the breasts completely white.  Now the way you would detect a cancer with standard mammography is to look for white spots on the breasts, so they’re completely hidden and you just can’t see them.
Dr Porter
You get a sort of white out of the picture effectively.
Prof Cuzik
You get essentially a white out, so you can’t actually always see cancers, they’re hidden by this whiteness, that’s called masking.

Dr Porter

So not only are they at increased risk but actually if they do have an early cancer that it’s harder for a radiologist to spot, so it might be missed.

Prof Cuzik

That’s correct, it might be missed yes.  And it’s very clear that it is being missed in many cases.  So there’s a lot of discussion about women who have dense breasts probably don’t get as much protection from a mammogram so they need additional screening – ultrasound screening, in some cases MRI screening.

Dr Porter
And does MRI get round this sort of snowflake in a snowball problem of the cancer being whited out by the density?
Prof Cuzik
Yes it does.  MRI uses a completely different mode of detection, it’s not x-rays, it’s magnetic changes in the breast.  And they don’t see the white, they can actually see through it.
Dr Porter
What are we likely to see change pin the UK as a result of this latest research?  I mean are women going to start being told whether they’ve got dense breasts or not.
Prof Cuzik
There’s ongoing work that’s actually really very much been developed in Manchester really trying to report this back to women and it should really be part of an overall risk assessment.  We have a risk tool that integrates all of the other factors, like family history and weight and hormone replacement therapy use, and breast density’s a very major part of that.



Please share this with your friends, family and co-workers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s