Is that Clear?

There has been a long running debate about Breast Density and the associated risks in terms of Breast Cancer. have written about it often.

We had the great privilege to co-host the first ever Irish Seminar on Mammographic Breast Density with in June 2019. 

Dr Paula Gordon, Prof of Radiology, University of British Columbia, Canada.
Siobhán Freeney, Founder and Patient Advocate for the European Lobular Breast Cancer Consortium
Prof Fidelma Flanagan, Clinical Director of BreastCheck, Eccles Street and Mater Hospital
Dr Maeve Mullooly, Epidemiologist, Breast Density Researcher and Scientist

June 2019 Mammographic Breast Density Seminar ‘What women need to know’ Dublin Royal College of Surgeons Dublin

I want to share a bit of the more personal side, it will explain why I am so deeply passionate about ALL women knowing about their personal Breast Density.

What ALL women should be told.

MYpePS – European Study – What do you think?

Is this a scientific or a marketing study? Is such a manoeuver ethical?

Women will judge”

Funded with 12.5 Million Euro of European research funding under #Horizon2020
My Personal Breast Screening #MyPeBS

The project

The results are not expected until 2025!

“But two problems arise:

– The MyPeBS method is ill chosen
– The consent booklet given to participants is obscure, incomplete and biased.”


This 12.5 million EU Breast Cancer Screening study does NOT address the issue of NON disclosure of personal information to a woman who has Dense Breasts as determined by the Radiologist reading her Mammogram. 

It does NOT address the benefits of Supplemental Breast Ultrasound for women with very Dense Breasts.

Is this ‘Kicking the can down the road’?

Are we really interested in finding Breast Cancer at it’s earliest?

After all, that’s why women attend their Mammogram screening, isn’t it? To find Cancer early OR be reassured that there is no Cancer there.

We all want that letter telling us, nothing was found, but only IF nothing was found.

40% of the Women who are having a screening Mammogram every two years, have NO idea that their Breast Density may mean the Radiologist hasn’t made a reliable reading.  Most women have NO idea that they have Dense Breasts AND the real shame is that they are just NOT being told.

Why is there so much resistance to simply telling a woman when her Screening Mammogram determines that she has Dense Breasts?

The aim of mammography screening is to detect breast cancer as early as possible, primarily in order to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths but also to reduce the severity of the disease and the use of heavy cancer treatments. are strong advocates for Breast Cancer Screening, good Breast Health, awareness of Breast Density and the benefits of Supplemental screening with Mammogram for women with Dense Breasts.

Women should ALWAYS get their Mammograms
Screening saves lives.

I’ve never missed a Mammogram and still don’t. I’m an advocate for Breast Screening and Breast Density Awareness.

Women should ALWAYS be told what their screening Mammogram says about them.

For women with very Dense Breasts, a Mammogram may miss 1 in 2 Cancers.

Breast Density shows as white on a Mammogram
Breast Cancer also shows as white and therefore there is a risk of masking
The Denser the Breast the greater the risk

50% of Breast Cancer may be missed, in Very Dense Breast tissue but the screening Mammogram may be reported as no evidence of Cancer. The woman may not be told she has Dense Breasts OR re-called for Ultrasoud and Clinical Breast Examination.

The report (2015 – 2016)  highlights that BreastCheck invited 198,986 women for screening with a total of 145,822 women attending for a mammogram and 986 cancers detected.

What happened to the 40% of the 145,822 Women with Dense Breasts who attended BreastCheck in 2015 – 2016? 

Like me, did they get a letter saying their Mammogram was clear?
Like me, were they NOT told that, in fact and BECAUSE OF the extent of their Mammographic Density, the Radiologists were unable to reliably read their imaging. 

I was not offered an Ultrasound.
I was not even advised about supplemental screening.
I was not offered a Clinical Breast Examination.

Countless women report similar stories.

I BELIEVED the clearance letter I received from BreastCheck in June 2015.  It was the same as the ones I got in 2011 and 2013.

June 2015

A simple conversation, a few words of advice from those who knew, would have changed everything.

“You have Extremely Dense Breasts and you should have an Ultrasound”.

That’s all it would have taken, I would have had a choice. I would have been informed.

I was Diagnosed with Stage 3c Breast Cancer, 5 months later in December 2015, the malignant tumour was 7cm and had spread to my nodes.

If I had been told about my Very Dense Breast tissue when BreastCheck saw it on my 1st screening Mammogram in 2007…..8 years earlier, well who knows?

As a BreastCheck Radiologist candidly and rather clinically, pointed out, ‘we’ll never know now’.

Breast Density is very visual on Mammogram and is determined by the Radiologist who reads your image

I do know now and I believe it was too high a price to pay.  The additional effects of a late stage diagnosis are devastating.

4 months of Chemo, Mastectomy, 42 nodes removed, extensive tissue and nerve damage, 30 radiotherapy sessions, a high price indeed!

Do the recognised limitations of Mammography in Very Dense Breast Tissue even get a consideration in this 12.5 million EU Breast Screening study? It appears not.

Why are we not moving towards a genuine Personalised and tailored approach to Breast Cancer Screening?

The question ‘Are you Dense’ has taken on a whole new meaning.  The answer, could save your life.

You’re not Dense but are your Breasts.

Please Like and then Share our FB page too.

Thank you.

One thought on “Is that Clear?

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s