Breast Cancer the Epidemic of our Century


I have just read a wonderful article from Professor Jack Cuzick.

In it he writes about personalised screening and biological signposts. He refers to Breast Cancer as the Epidemic of our Century.

As most of you will know I began at the start of 2016 following my own diagnosis of Breast Cancer.

Breast Density was something I had never heard of before I read an article by Dr Nancy Cappello who began advocating for Breast Density Inform laws back in 2004 in the U.S.

Nancy began this grassroots advocacy after her delayed diagnosis of advanced late stage Breast Cancer. Thanks to Nancy and other wonderful women there are 36 U.S. States that have some level of Breast Density notification as part of their Breast Screening Program, and more states have legislation in place.

Nancy Cappello died at the end of 2018 from complications relating to her original breast cancer diagnosis.  The Breast Imaging Community have paid numerous tributes to her, they respect and value her advocacy work.  I personally continue to miss her advice and her support, her drive and enthusiasm.

Over the last 3 years I have become passionately involved in advocating for Breast Density inform protocols here in Ireland.


Mammographic density which is a very important factor is largely unknown and not spoken about enough here in Ireland. Many people only are aware of the fact that screening mammograms are used to try and detect cancer early, but in fact they turn out to be very, very useful for determining who is at high risk. However, here in Ireland our Screening Program does not inform women about their Breast Density as determined by their screening mammograms.

Look at the GIF above and see how the Dense Breast (right) masks (obscures) the tumour. If you have Dense Tissue then your radiologist should advise you to have supplemental screening  Ultrasound or MRI.

White areas on mammograms, dense tissue, which is not fatty, but it’s actually epithelial tissue or fibroglandular tissue and women need to know that having more of that increases your risk of Breast Cancer. continue to question why Irish women are NOT made aware of this clinical risk factor. Why are Radiologists witholding this information and why hasn’t this been addressed by Minister for Health Mr Simon Harris

Currently, Breast Density information is not routinely shared with women who attend for routine Mammogram screening with our National Breast screening service BreastCheck

There is an abundance of excellent medically sourced information and research from around the world, which unequivocally says that women with mammographic Breast Density may be at risk of a delayed diagnosis of Breast Cancer. Breast Density is now included as part of a woman’s risk assessment in other countries and considered as important a risk as having a family 1st relative history.

This info graphic was mailed out to 40,000 G.P. practices in Australia. Education and discussion on this issue is a key factor in early detection.


Dr Stephen Birrell world reknowned Breast Cancer researcher and Oncologist

Adelaide Breast Cancer Specialist, Dr Stephen Birrell MBBS PhD FRACS, is currently touring the country speaking to Australia’s General Practitioners about a critical,  unmanaged women’s health concern, mammographic breast density and its association with increased breast cancer risk and missed breast cancer during screening.

Women with high mammographic breast density are up to 10 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women with low breast density, depending on their other individual risk factors and can reduce the ability for a mammogram to detect a cancer by up to 50%.

Podbean is the official podcast site for the Breasst Cancer Research Foundation

Dr Jack Cuzick

Professor of Epidemiology
Queen Mary University of London
Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group
Cancer Research UK
London, United Kingdom


How randomized clinical trials can inform breast cancer prevention strategies, with Dr. Jack Cuzick, linked above gives the most affirmative and clear view that current Breast Screening and risk assessment must take a woman’s Breast Density into account.

Prof Jack Cuzick tells us that…..

If you have dense breasts, we know that mammography has limited sensitivity there, so that density area not only tells you that you’re an increased risk, but we should be looking for new and better ways to actually screen women, because once there’s this white density on the breast, you can’t see the cancer so easily. There are new methods that can actually see through that.

Because women in Ireland are not told about Breast Density as it appears on their mammogram we are put at risk, it’s really that simple.

Know it ~ Understand it

It is 2018 afterall, women have a right to a breast screening radiilogy report, incorporating Mammographic Density information, allowing us to make an informed decision about our Bodies and our Breasts.

Further information and useful websites plus research on Breast Density and assoc risks



Please share this article with family and friends.

Breast Density is a well established risk factor – is here to stay and we will continue to advocate for Breast Density inform policy to be recognised in Ireland.

FIND US ON TWITTER 👀@breastdense


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Thank you for sharing this 👭







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