(HealthDay News) — Patients need to be educated regarding breast density and alternative screening modalities, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held from Nov. 25 to 30 in Chicago.

Haatal Dave, M.D., from Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and Jafi Lipson, M.D., from Stanford University in California, surveyed 105 asymptomatic adult patients seen in the outpatient radiology clinic of a U.S. academic medical center following completion of a routine screening mammogram. Radiology reports were used to assess breast density.

The researchers found that 42 percent (44 of 105) of patients had heterogeneously dense or extremely dense breast tissue. Only 24 percent (25 of 105) of patients reported they were aware of their breast density. Most patients were interested in automated whole-breast ultrasound and contrast-enhanced spectral mammography as additional screening tests, and the interest persisted despite the possibility of an increased likelihood of undergoing invasive procedures, increase in false-positive results, and higher out-of-pocket expenses. These findings held true regardless of the age and breast density of the women.

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“We hope this study raises awareness that dense breast tissue is a risk factor for breast cancer and that alternative technologies, including automated whole-breast ultrasound and contrast-enhanced mammography, are available to aid in screening women with dense breasts,” Dave said in a statement.

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