Mammography and Breast Density: What You Need to Know

Mammography and Breast Density: What You Need to Know

We know that screening mammograms detect breast cancer in its earliest stages when it’s still treatable.  However, in women with dense breasts, breast cancer can be harder to detect. So what happens when your mammography report indicates that you have dense breast tissue – and why does it matter?

Breast density can only be determined with mammography.

Breasts are considered dense if they have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue but not much fatty tissue.  Breast density can only be determined by a radiologist via mammography – it has nothing to do with breast size or firmness. Up to 40 percent of women are thought to have dense breasts.

Dense breasts increase breast cancer risk.

Women with dense breasts have a higher risk for breast cancer. Dense breasts also make it more difficult for radiologists to detect cancer on mammograms because dense tissue appears white – which is also the color of both benign and cancerous lumps.

Yes, mammography still works in women with dense breasts.

Even though mammography can be less accurate in women with dense breasts – it’s still proven to reduce breast cancer deaths.  Many cancers are still visible on mammograms even in women with dense breasts.

If you have dense breasts, talk to your doctor about 3D mammography.

If you have dense breasts it’s important to discuss breast cancer screening options with your doctor. Research indicates that 3D mammography – also known as breast tomosynthesis –  may detect more abnormalities in women with dense breasts. 3D mammography also increases the number of cancers detected without additional testing.

After you talk to your doctor, call Bergen Imaging Center to schedule your mammogram.