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Mammographic densities of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women living in Australia’s Northern Territory



To compare the mammographic densities and other characteristics of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women screened in Australia.


Population screening programme data of Aboriginal (n = 857) and non-Aboriginal women (n = 3236) were used. Mann–Whitney U test compared ages at screening and Chi-square tests compared personal and clinical information. Logistic regression analysis was used for density groupings. OR and 95% CI were calculated for multivariate association for density.


Mammographic density was lower amongst Aboriginal women (P < 0.001). For non-Aboriginal women, higher density was associated with younger age (OR 2.4, 95% CI 2.1–2.8), recall to assessment (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.6–3.0), family history of breast cancer (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.2–1.6), English-speaking background (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.2–1.6), and residence in remote areas (OR 1.2, 95% CI 1.1–1.4). For Aboriginal women, density was associated with younger age (OR 2.7, 95% CI 2.0–3.5; P < 0.001), and recall to assessment (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.4–3.9; P < 0.05).


Significant differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women were found. There were more significant associations for dense breasts for non-Aboriginal women than for Aboriginal women.

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This study was undertaken under the auspices of the Centre of Research Excellence in Discovering Indigenous Strategies to improve Cancer Outcomes Via Engagement, Research Translation and Training (DISCOVER-TT CRE, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council #1041111) and the Strategic Research Partnership to improve Cancer control for Indigenous Australians (STREP Ca-CIndA, funded through Cancer Council NSW (SRP 13-01) with supplementary funding from Cancer Council WA). We also acknowledge the ongoing support of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies. Gail Garvey is supported by an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (#1105399). Kriscia Tapia is a DISCOVER-TT CRE scholar. Kriscia Tapia thanks Professor Jenny Peat whose statistical expertise was invaluable during the analysis and interpretation of the data. She also thanks Kim Coulter, Guillermo Enciso, and Christine Wright for their assistance with data collection, and Phuong Dung Trieu and Ziba Gandomkar for their advice on the methodology of this study.

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Correspondence to Kriscia A. Tapia.

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Tapia, K.A., Garvey, G., McEntee, M.F. et al. Mammographic densities of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women living in Australia’s Northern Territory. Int J Public Health 64, 1085–1095 (2019).

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  • Aboriginal Australians
  • Mammographic density
  • Breast cancer