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Notification Laws May Not Increase Knowledge of Dense Breast Risks

Women with lower education may be less likely to gain awareness of breast density due to the laws

TUESDAY, Jan. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — State dense-breast notification (DBN) laws are not associated with increased understanding of the clinical implications of breast density, according to a study published online Jan. 8 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Kelly A. Kyanko, M.D., from the New York University School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues surveyed 1,928 women (aged 40 to 59 years) without a personal history of breast cancer and at least one screening mammogram. The questionnaire assessed the relationship between residing in a state with a DBN law and women’s awareness and knowledge about breast density and breast cancer anxiety.

The researchers found that women residing in DBN states were more likely to report increased breast density versus women residing in non-DBN states (43.6 versus 32.7 percent; adjusted odds ratio, 1.70). The impact of DBN on women’s reporting of dense breasts was significant for women with more than a high school education, but not among women with a high school education or less. Overall, only 23 percent of women knew that increased breast density was associated with a higher risk for breast cancer, while 68 percent of women understood that dense breasts decreased the sensitivity of mammography. For awareness and knowledge and for breast cancer-related anxiety, there were no significant differences between women in DBN states and non-DBN states.

“Improving readability and understandability of notification language, or other forms of educational efforts may help improve understanding of breast density for all women,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and health care technology companies.

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