During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Bayer Shines a Light on the Impact of Breast Density on Breast Cancer Risk

Breast density can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, yet new Bayer survey results show 30 percent of women do not feel informed about how breast density impacts breast cancer risk or long-term breast cancer screening needs

WHIPPANY, N.J.--()--Nearly half of all women aged 40 and over who have mammograms are told they have dense breasts.1 Yet, many women don’t know that having dense breasts can increase the risk of breast cancer. In fact, for women with the densest breasts, the risk for breast cancer can be four to six times higher than women with the least dense breasts.2 What’s more, dense breasts can make cancer more difficult to detect on a mammogram, leading to missed or underdiagnosed cancers, which can contribute to breast cancer mortality.3

In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), today Bayer released new survey results that uncover gaps in knowledge among women with dense breasts, pointing to a greater need for education on this important women’s health topic.4 This survey was conducted among a sample of 500 US women ages 35 and older who report having dense breasts. Survey findings show that nearly one in three women (30 percent) do not feel informed about how their breast density impacts their breast cancer risk and long-term breast cancer screening needs.4 When told about their breast density, one in four women say they were “worried” (24 percent) and “unsure of what to do next” (26 percent).4 And 57 percent of women say they did not receive any resources when they were told about their breast density.4

“While dense breasts are common, it is important for women to understand the risks associated with dense breasts so they can have an informed discussion with their healthcare provider and determine an appropriate breast screening plan,” said Dr. Pamela Habib, Head of US Medical Affairs for Bayer Radiology. “Mammograms miss up to 40 percent of cancers in women with dense breasts.5 Because diagnosing breast cancer early is one of the most important strategies to saving patients’ lives, we want to encourage women with dense breasts to educate themselves and talk to their healthcare providers about supplemental imaging, such as a breast MRI, that can be more effective in identifying cancers early.”

Additional survey results from Bayer include:

  • More than a third of women were told that no action is necessary until their next annual exam (36 percent), while about a quarter were told they should seek additional screening (26 percent).4
  • 53 percent of women with dense breasts say they were notified of their breast density during a face-to-face conversation with a healthcare provider, while approximately one in four (24 percent) say they were notified by a letter from a source other than their healthcare provider’s office, such as a radiology facility.4

Breast density is one of several risk factors for breast cancer, alongside a woman’s genetic profile and family history. To learn more about breast density and its relation to breast cancer, visit Understandyourdensity.com.

About Bayer

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to help people and planet thrive by supporting efforts to master the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. Bayer is committed to drive sustainable development and generate a positive impact with its businesses. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. The Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2020, the Group employed around 100,000 people and had sales of 41.4 billion euros. R&D expenses before special items amounted to 4.9 billion euros. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.

PP-CONT-US-0168-1 October 2021

1 Dense Breasts: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/breast-changes/dense-breasts. Updated July 14, 2020. Accessed August 18, 2021.
2 An Introduction to Dense Breast Tissue. DenseBreast-Info.org. https://densebreast-info.org/introduction-to-dense-breast-tissue. Accessed August 18, 2021.
3 Kuhl, C. K. (2019). Underdiagnosis is the main challenge in breast cancer screening. The Lancet Oncology, 20(8), 1044–1046. doi: 10.1016/s1470-2045(19)30314-6
4 This poll was conducted between August 24 – August 28, 2021 among a sample of 500 US women ages 35 and older who report having dense breasts. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample based on age, educational attainment, race/ethnicity, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
5 An Introduction to Dense Breast Tissue. DenseBreast-Info.org. https://densebreast-info.org/introduction-to-dense-breast-tissue. Accessed August 18, 2021.


Jennifer May, 412-656-8192


Jennifer May, 412-656-8192