Apr 15, 2024

Breast cancer is a formidable health challenge globally, but advances in early detection and treatment have significantly reduced mortality rates.

Today, the focus has shifted towards personalized screening strategies to further enhance early detection, especially in women considered at high risk for breast cancer. This tailored approach is necessary when optimizing outcomes and underscores the importance of understanding one’s risk and the available screening options.

Decline in Breast Cancer Mortality

Remarkably, the death rate from breast cancer has almost halved over the past two decades. Early detection through screening and advancements in targeted therapies have made this possible. Currently, most women diagnosed with breast cancer have localized tumors, leading to a five-year survival rate exceeding 95%. Such statistics highlight the pivotal role of early detection in saving lives.

Personalized Screening: Beyond Mammograms

Breast cancer screening has evolved from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more personalized methodology, considering factors such as breast density and individual risk of developing cancer. Traditionally, mammograms have been the cornerstone of breast cancer screening. However, for women with dense breast tissue or those at higher risk, additional screening methods like MRI and ultrasound have become crucial in detecting cancers that mammograms might miss.

The Challenge of Dense Breasts

Dense breast tissue, characterized by less fat and more glandular and fibrous tissue, not only increases the risk of developing breast cancer by up to four times but also makes cancer more challenging to detect via mammograms. For women with dense breasts, the detection rate of mammography falls significantly. Thus, to enhance detection rates, it is recommended that patients have annual mammograms and screening MRIs or ultrasounds.

Legislative and Advocacy Efforts

Awareness and legislative action concerning breast density have gained momentum, leading to a national breast density notification law becoming effective throughout the United States in September 2024. This law requires that women be informed in writing about their breast density following a mammogram, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding their screening options (Berg et al., 2023).

Screening Technologies and Recommendations

Screening technologies have advanced, with 3D mammography offering improved detection rates, especially for women with dense breasts. Methods like whole breast ultrasound, 3D whole breast ultrasound tomography, and the potential for MRIs to screen high-risk individuals further exemplify the strides made in early detection.

There is also a growing consensus that average-risk asymptomatic women should begin having annual mammograms at age 40 because they are “associated with a relative reduction in breast cancer mortality” (Duffy et al., 2020). Personalized additional screening suggestions based on individual risk factors in consultation with healthcare providers are an essential part of this process, and the technological improvements made to mammogram accuracy improve early detection rates for these patients.

For Women at Increased Risk

Understanding breast cancer and its treatment options has significantly changed over the past fifty years. Because of work done in genome mapping and the familiarity with women at increased risk due to factors such as genetic mutations or family history, it now allows for more informed decision-making in performing personalized and intensive screening protocols. Understanding and navigating these recommendations is often complicated by varying guidelines across organizations.

Addressing Disparities

Despite repeated initiatives, significant disparities exist in breast cancer screening and outcomes, particularly affecting women of color and underserved communities to this day. Addressing these disparities requires intensified efforts from providers to ensure equitable access to screening and care, emphasizing the importance of advocacy and legislative action in bridging these gaps.

By addressing these issues through the offering of “culturally competent interventions,” “technological advancements, such as telemedicine and mobile health applications,” and “patient navigation programs,” research has shown that this disparity can be reduced (Nayyar et al., 2023). Collaboration and vigilance are required for success in initiatives to serve these populations.

Empowerment Through Screening

Empowerment lies at the heart of personalized breast cancer screening. By understanding one’s risk, advocating for appropriate screening, and staying informed about the latest advancements and recommendations, women can significantly improve their chances of early detection and successful treatment.

The narrative of breast cancer screening is one of hope, progress, and the collective effort toward a future where breast cancer’s impact is minimized through early detection and personalized care.

A Special Note

The writing of Drs. Rachel Brem and Christy Teal inspired this Mammologix Moment.

Their book, No Longer Radical, is a compelling narrative blending professional expertise with personal experiences, offering invaluable insights into breast cancer detection, prevention, and treatment. Mammologix highly recommends it to anyone in the field or anyone touched by breast cancer in any way.

It is available in printed and audiobook formats from your favorite book outlet.


Berg, W. A., Seitzman, R. L., & Pushkin, J. (2023). Implementing the National Dense Breast Reporting Standard, Expanding Supplemental Screening Using Current Guidelines, and the Proposed Find It Early Act. Journal of breast imaging, 5(6), 712–723. https://doi.org/10.1093/jbi/wbad034

Brem, R., & Teal, C. (2023). No Longer Radical: Understanding Mastectomies and Choosing the Breast Cancer Care That’s Right For You. Simon Element.

Duffy, S. W., Vulkan, D., Cuckle, H., Parmar, D., Sheikh, S., Smith, R. A., Evans, A., Blyuss, O., Johns, 

L., Ellis, I. O., Myles, J., Sasieni, P. D., & Moss, S. M. (2020). Effect of mammographic screening from age 40 years on breast cancer mortality (UK Age trial): final results of a randomised, controlled trial. The Lancet. Oncology, 21(9), 1165–1172. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(20)30398-3 

Nayyar, S., Chakole, S., Taksande, A. B., Prasad, R., Munjewar, P. K., & Wanjari, M. B. (2023). From 

Awareness to Action: A Review of Efforts to Reduce Disparities in Breast Cancer Screening. Cureus, 15(6), e40674. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.40674