Disparities based on race, education and income exist in the awareness of breast density and its role in breast cancer detection, according to a study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Deborah J. Rhodes, MD, of the Mayo Clinic and fellow researchers conducted a national cross-sectional survey in English and Spanish using a probability-based sample of screening-age women. They surveyed 2,311 women and 65 percent had responded, with an oversampling in Connecticut due to it being the only state with breast density legislation in effect for more than a year before the start of the study.

In total, they found that 58 percent of women had heard of breast density. Forty-nine percent had known that it affected breast cancer detection, and 53 percent knew that density affected cancer risk.

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With multivariable adjustment, increased awareness was associated with women who were of white, non-Hispanic ethnic backgrounds, had higher household income, and better education status.

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Women who knew of the masking effect of breast density were associated with higher income, education and prior breast biopsy.

Those who lived in Connecticut were more likely to have discussed breast density with a health care provider than any other state.

“These findings support continued and targeted efforts to improve breast density awareness among women eligible for screening mammography,” the authors concluded.


  1. Rhodes, Deborah J., et al. “Awareness of Breast Density and Its Impact on Breast Cancer Detection and Risk.” Journal of Clinical Oncology. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.57.0325. [epub ahead of print]. March 2, 2015.