Why is breast density important?
Breast cancer is white on a mammogram. Normal breast glandular tissue is also white on a mammogram. When there is a greater amount of dense tissue it can hide abnormalities. In addition, having dense tissue is a risk factor for developing breast cancer.
What can I do if I have dense breasts?
You are considered to have “dense breasts” if your mammogram shows category “C” or “D”. If your mammogram shows category “A” or “B” then you are not considered dense which means your mammogram should be better than average at detecting breast cancer if present.
If your breast tissue is dense you may wish to consider adding additional testing to your routine screening. Other tests you may consider include breast ultrasound and MRI. Breast ultrasound is able to scan through the dense tissue and can find many of the abnormalities hidden by the dense tissue on a mammogram. CBIS recommends Automated Whole Breast Screening Ultrasound for all women with dense tissue which can be done at the same time as your annual screening mammogram. MRI finds the most abnormalities but can be very expensive and uncomfortable. Both ultrasound and MRI find many things that are not important and may lead to additional testing including biopsy. The latest imaging tool 3D mammography has been shown to find more abnormalities in women with dense tissue so it may lessen the need for other types of testing.
What do I do if I have more questions?
You may wish to discuss this with your health care provider or you may contact us directly and we would be glad to discuss this further.