In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Bayer has collaborated with HealthyWomen, America's independent leader in women’s health education, on Understand Your Density, a national initiative to help women understand their own breast density and breast screening needs. The program aims to provide women over age 40 who have dense breasts with the information needed to ask their healthcare provider (HCP) if supplemental breast cancer screening beyond a standard mammogram may be necessary for them. Nearly half of all women age 40 and older who get mammograms are found to have dense breasts.1
As part of the initiative, Bayer will be launching a quiz on UnderstandYourDensity.com to help women test their breast density knowledge, educate themselves on what that may mean for their breast cancer screening needs and encourage them to speak with their HCP. It is important for women to understand their own breast density, as having dense breasts may make cancer more difficult to detect on a mammogram and can put women at a twofold risk of breast cancer compared to those with non-dense breasts.3,4
“In women with dense breasts, which appears as mostly fibrous or glandular tissue with just a little fatty tissue, mammography alone might not be enough to detect breast cancer and they may need additional screening such as breast MRI or ultrasound,” said Beth Battaglino, R.N., CEO of HealthyWomen. “We’re excited to partner with Bayer on this important initiative designed to help women better understand their breast density, which in turn can help provide them with the information needed to discuss supplemental screening options with their healthcare providers.”
Despite many decades of mammogram screening, breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death in women and approximately 42,170 Americans are expected to die of breast cancer in 2020.5,6 Understand Your Density is part of Bayer’s ongoing commitment to increase awareness of the impact dense breasts may have on breast cancer detection and diagnosis. The quiz asks users a variety of questions regarding their breast density and recent screening procedures, encourages them to speak with their HCP and provides links to more information about breast health.
Other resources may also be found on HealthyWomen’s breast health education's microsite, YourHealthyBreasts.org. The site includes information on general breast health, breast density, screening guidelines, breast cancer (including metastatic and triple negative), and genetic testing. The site also features women sharing their breast cancer stories, questions to ask yourself and your HCP, and links to HealthyWomen’s partner associations and organizations focused on breast health, breast cancer, and overall breast awareness. Women should always consult their HCP on their individual medical needs.
Breast tissue may be called dense if there is a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue and not much fat in the breasts. Some women have more dense breasts than others do, and for most women, breasts become less dense with age but for some there is little change. Breast density is seen only on mammograms and is not based on how breasts feel or related to breast size or firmness.7 For women with dense breasts, the American Society of Breast Surgeons recommends supplemental imaging such as breast MRI or ultrasound be considered in addition to annual mammography.8 For women with personal histories of breast cancer and dense breasts, the American College of Radiology recommends an annual breast MRI.9 As such, it is important for women to ask their doctor if additional breast screening might be right for them.
“Mammograms may be limited in women with dense breasts as both dense tissue and tumors may look white on a mammogram. Supplemental screening, such as breast MRI or ultrasound, may be recomended depending on individual patient risk factors and can help detect cancer earlier in dense breasts. Timing is critical as earlier detection can lead to increased survival rates,” said Victoria L. Mango, M.D., Breast Radiologist, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York. “As nearly 50% of women over the age of 40 who have mammograms are found to have dense breasts, educating women on their breast density is an important step in better understanding their overall breast health and screening needs."
1 Dense Breasts: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/breast-changes/dense-breasts#:~:text=Nearly%20half%20of%20all%20women,other%20factors%20can%20influence%20it. Last revised September 7, 2018. Accessed July 1, 2020.
2 Limitations of Mammograms. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/mammograms/limitations-of-mammograms.html#:~:text=False%2Dnegative%20results&text=Overall%2C%20screening%20mammograms%20do%20not,when%20in%20fact%20they%20do. Last revised October 3, 20198. Accessed July 1, 2020.
3 Dense breast tissue: What it means to have dense breasts. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/mammogram/in-depth/dense-breasttissue/art-20123968. Updated February 18, 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020.
4 Dense Breasts. Breastcancer.org. https://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/dense_breasts. Accessed July 1, 2020.
5 Thigpen D, et al. The Role of Ultrasound in Screening Dense Breasts-A Review of the Literature and Practical Solutions for Implementation. Diagnostics (Basel). 2018;8(1):20.
6 How Common Is Breast Cancer? American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/how-common-is-breast-cancer.html. Last reviewed January 8, 2020. Accessed July 1, 2020.
7 Breast Density and Your Mammogram Report. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/mammograms/breast-density-and-your-mammogram-report.html. Last Revised: October 3, 2019. Accesses August 18, 2020.
8 Position Statement on Screening Mammography. The American Society of Breast Surgeons. https://www.breastsurgeons.org/docs/statements/Position-Statement-on-Screening-Mammography.pdf. Published 2019. Accessed July 1, 2020.
9 Monticciolo DL, et. al. Breast Cancer Screening in Women at Higher-Than-Average Risk: Recommendations From the ACR. J Am Coll Radiol. 2018;15:408-414.
Dr. Victoria Mango has a consulting relationship with Bayer.
Back To Top
Bayer, HealthyWomen Launch "Understand Your Density" Breast Screening Campaign. Appl Radiol.