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JAMA Insights
Women's Health
May 31, 2019

Discussions of Dense Breasts, Breast Cancer Risk, and Screening Choices in 2019

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2General Internal Medicine Section, Department of Veterans Affairs, University of California, San Francisco
  • 3Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis
  • 4Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle
  • 5Department of Health Sciences Research, Division of Epidemiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
JAMA. 2019;322(1):69-70. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.6247

Breast density, a radiologic term that describes the proportion of parenchymal relative to fatty tissue in mammograms, is a strong and prevalent risk factor. With increasing breast density, the risk of having a breast cancer masked or hidden on mammography increases, as does future breast cancer risk.1 Almost 50% of US women aged 40 to 74 years have dense breasts (an estimated 27.6 million women). The widespread incorporation of breast density information into screening mammography reports in 36 US states and suggestion to consider supplemental imaging has resulted in women raising questions about breast density and supplemental imaging with their clinicians.2 Thus, clinicians need to be knowledgeable of the clinical significance of breast density and how it may be useful when combined with breast cancer risk to inform screening discussions.

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