Breast density is a way to describe the different types of tissue that make up a women’s breast. The breast is made up of glandular tissue, fibrous connective tissue and fatty tissue. The amount of these tissues varies in women. When women have more fibrous connective and glandular tissue than fatty tissue, they have denser breast tissue.
2. How do women know if they have dense breasts?
Only your doctor can determine if you have dense breasts. Radiologists interpret screening mammograms to assess breast density.
3. How common is it for women to have dense breasts?
60% of women under 50, 40% of women in their 50s and 25% of women in their 60s. Know that there is a normal spectrum of tissue density and that dense tissue is not in and of itself abnormal and may fluctuate from year to year but tends to decline with age.
4. What are some of the factors which affect breast density?
The three factors which affect breast density include genetics, pregnancy, and age. High breast density tends to run in families. With each pregnancy your breast density decreases, and typically, younger women have denser breasts.
5. What are some of the challenges posed by dense breast tissue?
Dense Breast tissue may make it more difficult for radiologist to find cancer or other abnormalities. However, annual mammography improves detection including in women with dense tissue.
6. What is the relationship between dense breast tissue & cancer?
Dense breast tissue does not necessarily increase the risk of breast cancer, it just makes it more difficult to detect.
7. What do women need to know if they find out they have dense breasts?
We want to stress that mammography is still a highly valuable tool in the detection o breast cancer. Even though sensitivity for the earliest cancers may be decreased, a mammogram is far from “worthless”.
8. What are the imaging options for women who find out they has dense breasts?
Currently, studies are being conducted to learn whether Ultrasound and MRI (in combination with mammography) help to improve detection in women with dense breasts.
9. What can women do to prevent breast cancer?
Know your risks and family history, get screened yearly & preform regular self-exams. Be aware of the signs which may indicate breast cancer, and make healthy life choices.
10. What else can women do to increase the chances of early detection?
Take the innovative to contact their representatives that passed this legislation to go a step further than requiring letters of notification… if they want to improve detection they need to require insurers to support additional testing when it is actually indicated and supported by good medical research. Ultrasound Screening is not currently supported by the literature or by insurance providers. Breast MRI and occasionally breast BSGI are routinely denied coverage by insurance providers even when indicated and supported by the literature.