Being Dense opens up dialogue on Irish Times Womens Podcast

I’ve written many times about the urgent need for a Notification Protocol, an Inform Policy, so that all women will be made aware of their Breast Density Category.

This week I spoke to Irish Times Journalist Kathy Sheridan on the IT Women’s Podcast.

IT Women’s Podcast What is Breast Density in conversation with Irish Times Journalist Kathy Sheridan

For those of us who participate in Breast Cancer Screening, asking about the category of our own personal Breast Density should be straightforward; because we know the Radiologist who reads our Mammogram determines the category of our Breast Density.  It is a Radiological finding.

I’m currently compiling an interesting list of replies, responses, answers women have been given when they do ask the question “What is my Breast Density Category, Am I Dense? The variation in those responses are quite honestly staggering and support the requirement for a standardised, Nationwide Inform Protocol for Mammographic Breast Density for all Women in Ireland.

Having had Mammograms over a 15 year period, I was never made aware of my Breast Density or the fact that I had Dense Breasts or that my Mammogram was difficult to reliably read and accurately interpret. Although I was acutely aware of my Health Checks and never missed a Breast or Cervical Check, Breast Density was something I had never been told about.

I would like to familiarise Irish women with the Standard Operating Procedures within BreastCheck. Recently I discovered that their SOP was reviewed so as to minimise dialogue between the Radiographer and the Woman attending for her Mammogram. Surely we should be working towards opening up dialogue?

“Our BreastCheck Radiographers had been referring too many women for Clinical Recall” – consequently the Breast Screening SOP was revised. The Standard Operating Procedure for Radiographers within The National Breast Cancer Screening Program – BreastCheck “Document Revision History”. New Clinical Guidelines.

This identifies that a paragraph was added on 2 April 2014 and that a previously existing point regarding the Radiographer asking client if she has noticed any changes in her breasts is to be REMOVED.
ALSO the previous list of signs classed as clinical recall reasons are: PALPABLE lump, Skin thickening/Tethering, Bloody nipple discharge and Recent nipple inversion . Thus “Palpable Lump” has been replaced with “NEW Lump” in the NEW version of the BreastCheck Guidelines on Clinical Recall. 

There is no acknowledgement in the new BreastCheck Guidelines (2014) or BreastCheck Expert Report on Interval Cancers (2019) that Women with Dense Breasts should be notified or recalled or advised in any way about the Breast Cancer and Breast Screening Risk Factors associated with having Dense Breasts.

Women with Dense Breasts are up to 18 times more likely to have an Interval Cancer.  Breast Density is a significant, independent, recognised risk factor and prognostic Indicator for developing Breast Cancer. It’s a stronger indicator than a Family History of Breast Cancer.
Cancers are missed in Dense Breasts because of the white on white masking. Women with Dense Breasts are 4-6 times more likely to develop Breast Cancer.

Telling Women that they are Dense after a Diagnosis of Invasive Breast Cancer is TOO Little Too LATE but sadly women are mostly unaware of the importance of knowing their Breast Density.

Women need to be ‘personally’ notified and at the earliest possible opportunity, as and when our Breast Density is determined by the Radiologist who reads our Mammogram.

This information should be routinely reported, in the same way we are notified about our Bloods, Blood Pressure, Bone Density and many other crucial health issues. 

My thanks to Kathy, Róisín and Jenny

#Earlydetection #IAmDense #TellWomen

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