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25 Oct 2021

South Australian women will be able to learn their individual breast density as part of a 6-month research study conducted by BreastScreen SA.

From February 2022, an automated software program will be used to measure breast density for women undergoing regular screening at 3 participating BreastScreen SA clinics.

BreastScreen SA Clinical Director, Associate Professor Michelle Reintals, said every woman should be aware of her individual risk factors for breast cancer, including breast density.

“With this research, we are seeking to understand what women may already know about breast density and if they would like to be informed of their breast density as part of regular screening mammograms in the future,” Associate Professor Reintals said.

“Breasts are made up of two main types of tissue – fatty and fibroglandular tissue – and while fat appears dark on a screening mammogram, glandular tissue appears ‘dense’ or white, as does breast cancer.

“Higher breast density is a risk factor for breast cancer, and it can reduce the visibility of breast cancers on a mammogram.”

BreastScreen SA Program Director, Niamh Wade, said the research study will run across 3 clinics including Arndale, Hyde Park and a mobile screening unit visiting outer metropolitan Adelaide.

“Clients who screen at these participating clinics will receive information about breast density and be informed of their individual breast density as part of their screening results,” Ms Wade said.

“We will also invite these clients to complete an optional and anonymous online survey with the feedback to be hugely valuable in identifying what our clients know about breast density and what they want to know.”

BreastScreen Australia does not currently report on breast density across all states and territories but supports greater research, discussion and public awareness of breast density.

BreastScreen SA provides free breast screens (breast X-rays) every 2 years to women over 40, primarily aged 50 to 74 years, with the aim of diagnosing breast cancer at an early stage, before it can be felt.

More information about the research study is available here.