Breast Density Study Dispels Worries About Overdiagnosis

Written by Ronny Bachrach on April 22, 2014. Posted in Hardware

Mammographies have become one of the main focal points of medical imaging in recent months as radiologists and other physicians look for improved ways to conduct cancer screenings. Tissue density has proven to be integral in determining the likely development of cancer, as digital tomosynthesis provides valuable information regarding the internal makeup of breasts.

Although organizations such as Are You Dense, Inc. work to educate the public on the issue of breast density, the government is slow to establish federal regulations on the matter. But following findings from a study published in the April issue of Radiology magazine, some legislators may begin to see the light that surrounds digital mammography.

Finding cancers ahead of time reported that although the digital imaging procedure can identify ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which might never become harmful if undetected, it also can find lesions that are likely to progress into invasive breast cancers. The results are significant because they pertain to concerns over high rates of overdiagnosis due to DCIS detection.

"Critics of digital breast screening suspect that the high detection rates of lesions depicted as calcifications may enhance overdiagnosis due to an increased detection of DCIS that would never present clinically in a person's lifetime. Our results show that, in population-based digital mammography screening, increments of total DCIS detection rates were significantly correlated with detection rates of intermediate- and high-grade DCIS," said Stefanie Weifel, M.D, from University Hospital Muenster and lead author of the study, quoted by the news source.

The study compiled breast cancer cases from North Rhine-Westphalia identified from screenings conducted between October 2005 and December 2008. More than 740,000 women underwent digital mammographies during that period of time, with 6,172 identified as having screen-detected cancer. With the low-grade lesions of DCIS, which tend to develop very slowly over time and typically are not harmful, the researchers found that the issue of overdiagnosis becomes less prevalent as a result.

Joining the cause
According to Diagnostic Imaging, Arizona became the 15th state to enact notification laws regarding breast density results. Passed into law Apr. 18, 2014, the legislation signed by Gov. Jan Brewer will become effective Oct. 1. The bill will require health care facilities that label patients as having dense breast tissue to alert them to the increased risk of possible cancer development and viable treatment options to consider. The diagnoses will be based on image reporting and standards established by the American College of Radiology.

The Are You Dense? campaign underscores the risk factors of tissue density in association with breast cancer. Screening tools can increase the detection of early stage cancers by almost 100 percent, according to the advocacy group. Back in Oct. 2013, a federal bill on density reporting was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives in hopes of creating national standards on breast density. Today, it remains with the Subcommittee on Health and is awaiting further review by legislators.

Ronny Bachrach

Ronny Bachrach

Marketing Director at Viztek LLC
Responsible for all marketing activities including, press, advertising, trade show coordination, website management, dealer and customer communications.
Ronny Bachrach
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