Studies Find Knowledge Gaps in Breast Density, Risk Assessment, Screening

By News Release

Mammogram study: Dense breasts won't raise cancer death risk in women - CBS  NewsDenseBreast-info.org (DB-I) announced in August that the results of the first of two research studies recently conducted by DB-I have been published in the Journal of Breast Imaging. The study, Radiologic Technologist and Radiologist Knowledge Gaps about Breast Density Revealed by an Online Continuing Education Course, identified provider knowledge gaps and their predictors based on an analysis of posttest responses to DB-I’s CME/CE course, Breast Density: Why it Matters. 

The online CME/CE course includes a collection of pre-course demographic information, a monograph based on DB-I content, and a post-test to assess knowledge. Deidentified results from more than 1300 radiologic technologists and more than 200 radiologists were evaluated. 

The study found important knowledge gaps regarding breast density, breast cancer risk assessment, and breast cancer screening.  Nearly half of surveyed physicians and technologists erroneously thought that lifetime risk increases with increasing age. About one-third overestimated the ability of tomosynthesis to detect cancer as nearly equal to MRI and also mistakenly thought the Gail risk model should be used to determine if a woman is high risk for the purposes of recommending MRI or genetic testing.

“These findings suggest that comprehensive, proper risk assessment and screening MRI in high-risk women may be underutilized, which is consistent with findings from previous studies. However, many of those studies were conducted in referring providers, who often rely on supplemental screening recommendations from radiologists to guide decisions. Therefore, addressing these knowledge gaps among radiologists is essential to ensure women receive adequate screening based on their personal risk profile,” said Robin Seitzman, PhD, MPH, Director of Education and Epidemiology Research, DenseBreast-info.org.

“Density notification will soon be the national standard, and cancers can remain hidden in dense breasts even with tomosynthesis. As a result, there has been a push to consider supplemental screening in women with dense breasts,” said Wendie Berg, MD, PhD, Professor of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Magee-Womens Hospital, Department of Radiology and Chief Scientific Advisor, DenseBreast-info.org. “This study revealed major gaps in both radiologist and radiologic technologist understanding of the efficacy of 3D mammography, or tomosynthesis, and current recommendations for MRI screening. Since radiologists routinely interface with patients and referring physicians to make appropriate screening recommendations, we need targeted, medically-sourced educational resources to facilitate well-informed shared decision making.”  

This research was made possible by the support of our Educational Supporters and also funded in part by a generous grant from the American Cancer Society.

DenseBreast-info.org, cited as the most up-to-date and comprehensive resource on the topic, was developed to provide breast density information to both patients and health care professionals. This medically-sourced educational tool is the collaborative effort of world-renowned breast imaging experts and medical reviewers and includes a Risk Model Primer.

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Studies Find Knowledge Gaps in Breast Density, Risk Assessment, Screening.  Appl Radiol. 

By News Release| August 27, 2020

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