New Breast Cancer Screening Report Shows Many Women are Unaware that Dense Breast Tissue Masks Cancer and May Lead to Higher Risk
Low Level of Awareness Revealed About Breast Density and Lower Accuracy of Mammogram Screening for Dense Breasts
NEW YORK, NY, October 8, 2014–A new survey entitled “Diagnosis Anxiety: The Working Mother Breast Screening Report” sheds important new information on the level of awareness women have about breast cancer today and what they are doing to help reduce the disease or detect it early. The survey of 2,502 women, conducted by the Working Mother Research Institute (WMRI) and sponsored by GE Healthcare, revealed that while 80% of the women have had a mammogram, and 70% of those women get an annual breast screening:
- Only one out of five women surveyed who have dense breasts know that they may be at a higher risk of breast cancer.
Kelly Roberts, MD, director of breast imaging curriculum at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System in Chicago, calls this finding “alarming” considering that a woman with extremely dense breasts has twice as much risk of developing cancer in the next 10 years as a woman with average density. In addition, mammography is estimated to be only 48% effective in detecting cancers in dense breasts, compared to 98% effective in typical fatty breasts, according to Dr. Roberts. ¹
- Fewer than half (43%) knows that having dense breast tissue makes it harder to read a mammogram.
Jessie Jacob, MD, chief medical officer of Breast Health at GE Healthcare, says, “Dense breast tissue masks cancers making it difficult for radiologists to detect on a standard mammogram. As a breast imaging physician, I educate my patients about risk factors around breast density and the supplemental screening options that exist because there is no one size fits all approach to screening women with dense breasts.”
- In addition, only 9% of the survey participants with dense breasts say their doctor recommended a supplemental screening breast exam.
- Only 21% knew that if your mother had dense breasts, you are likely to follow.
The Callback Quandary
Nearly half of the women surveyed who have had a mammogram have been asked to return for more tests. For women with dense breasts, that number jumped to 69%. Three quarters of women in the survey who have been called back feel nervous, and 43% find it difficult to focus on day-to-day activities while waiting for results.
Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media, says, “This new WMRI survey touches on a topic that affects all women, whether or not they’re working and whether or not they’re moms. The big questions about how to protect ourselves always loom, and the annual ritual of mammography is a time of intense anxiety for many of us.”
While 84% of the respondents call the level of detail they received about their mammogram results “acceptable,” only 59% say they are satisfied with their interaction with their radiologist and slightly fewer feel informed about the different types of breast imaging technology available to them.
Nine out of 10 consider mammograms to be an important part of health management while 80% have had at least one mammogram. Seventy percent of the respondents who have had a mammogram get screened annually. And a vast majority of women who have had mammograms report a positive experience, with 92% saying they were satisfied with their interaction with their technician, the overall atmosphere of the facility (91%) and how quickly they got an appointment (90%).
Why Women Skip Breast Screening
For the 20 percent of women who hadn’t had a mammogram, the top reason for skipping it was cost (36%) followed by 24% who say it’s “not necessary,” 15% who say they never got around to it and 13% who are afraid.
Minorities & Mammograms
The Working Mother survey found that minority women, who comprised 14% of the survey, report slightly different breast screening experiences. They are more likely to say they received their first mammogram to be proactive about their health (25% of minority women vs. 21% of the total sample). However, they are less likely to have gotten their first mammogram because a doctor recommended one as a baseline (42% of the minority women vs. 48%, total sample).
About the Survey Respondents
The survey was completed by a total of 2,502 women, who were at least 35 years old with an average age of 56, spanning 50 states. Eighty percent of the respondents have had a mammogram, breast ultrasound other breast imaging. A total of 68% of the women say they do not have a family history of breast cancer while 32% do. The ethnic makeup of the survey was 86% white, 9% black, 2% Asian, 2% American Indian and 1% Other, with 4% of the sample also identifying as Hispanic.
About the Methodology
The Working Mother Research Institute developed a national survey and fielded it through a series of email blasts sent by Survey Sampling International to women who had agreed to participate. Bonnier Custom Insights received and tabulated the responses, which were analyzed by Maria S. Ferris Consulting LLC.
About Working Mother Media
Working Mother Media (WMM), a division of Bonnier Corporation (bonnier.com), publishes Working Mother magazine and its companion website, workingmother.com. The Working Mother Research Institute (workingmother.com/wmri), the National Association for Female Executives (nafe.com) and Diversity Best Practices (diversitybestpractices.com) are also units within WMM. WMM’s mission is to serve as a champion of culture change. Working Mother magazine is the only national magazine for career-committed mothers. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
About GE Healthcare
GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services to meet the demand for increased access, enhanced quality and more affordable healthcare around the world. GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter – great people and technologies taking on tough challenges. From medical imaging, software & IT, patient monitoring and diagnostics to drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies and performance improvement solutions, GE Healthcare helps medical professionals deliver great healthcare to their patients.
At GE, we envision a day when cancer is no longer a deadly disease. In September 2011, GE Healthcare launched an ambitious global campaign against cancer, committing $1 billion of its total R&D budget over the next five years to expand its advanced cancer diagnostic and molecular imaging capabilities, as well as its advanced technologies for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals and for cancer research. By the end of 2012, $335M had been invested, setting GE on track to meet its five-year commitment. To accelerate progress, and to help clinicians deliver better care to 10 million patients by 2020, the campaign against cancer combines the strength of GE’s portfolio of cancer technologies with the innovations born from collaborations with key partners. To learn more on how GE is tackling cancer, see: http://www.getacklingcancer.com/.
SOURCE: GE Healthcare