Patients want BAC included in mammography reporting

A majority of patients wish to be notified about breast arterial calcifications (BACs) found on mammography, according to recent research published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Detection of BACs during mammography can be used to predict if a patient has cardiovascular disease, wrote lead author Laurie R. Margolies, with Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, and colleagues. The information could be utilized to inform cardiac exams.

A total of 419 mammography patients responded to a survey asking various questions related to BAC, including whether or not they wanted to know if they had a calcification, and if so, how they would prefer to be notified. The response rate varied by question.

More than 95 percent indicated they would prefer to know about BACs. Additionally, each of the 107 patients who were unaware of a personal history of heart disease wanted BAC notification. If this information were included in mammogram reports, patients and providers would likely discuss the implications of such findings, Margolies et al. argued.

“This discussion may lead to appropriate imaging and laboratory evaluation and encourage lifestyle modifications,” the authors added. “It is a potential hidden benefit of screening mammography that can promote prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease in women.”

Margolies et al. also found more than 62 percent of women preferred if the radiology department notified them through letter or phone call.

Bridging the gap between breast radiology and preventative cardiology may be a key to implementing universal BAC reporting, the authors wrote.

“Breast radiologists are in a strong position to identify BAC, notify patients of its presence, and help women with BAC reach preventive cardiologists,” Margolies and colleagues concluded. “Future research will determine if adding BAC to reports and creating an actionable model have meaningful impact on women's cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.”