The term dense breasts is used to describe breast tissue that is less fatty and composed of more non-fatty (fibrolandular) tissue than tissue found in breasts that are not dense.
Both researchers and doctors agree that women diagnosed with dense breasts are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Roughly one-half of women have dense breasts.
But women can’t tell their breasts are dense just by touching them. Breast density is only revealed on a mammogram. However it poses a difficulty for breast cancer to be detected through traditional mammograms because breast cancer is easier to detect when surrounded by fatty tissue; especially when compared to the areas of non-fatty tissue found in dense breasts.
Breast cancer may be confused with breast density because both look white on a mammogram while normal fatty breast tissue appears dark.
Breast Density Classification; How is it Measured?
As many as 43% of women in the United States aged between 40 and 74 years old are classified as having dense breasts. Breast density can be measured by the thickness of the tissue that appears on a mammogram. The Breast Imaging Reporting and Database System (BI-RADS) reports findings of mammograms along with tracking breast density.
Breast density diagnosis falls into one of four groups:
• Breasts that are mostly fatty
• Breasts that have scattered areas of density
• Breasts that are consistently dense
• Breasts that are extremely dense
What Does Dense Breast Tissue Feel Like?
It is important that women understand that breast density is not based on how your breasts feel during your annual physical or self-exams. Dense breasts are composed of more glandular tissue which produces milk and the supportive tissue which surrounds the gland (stroma).
Breast density can be inherited so if your mother or other close female relatives have dense breasts, it increases the likelihood that you will be diagnosed with dense breasts as well.
Traditional mammograms do not always detect cancer in dense breasts but researchers are studying alternative methods for effectively screening for cancer in patients diagnosed with dense breast tissue.
Dense Breast Tissue 3-D Mammography & Ultrasound
A recent study found that 3-D mammography (digital tomosynthesis) and 3-D ultrasound effectively increases the rate of detecting cancer in women with dense breasts.
If you have been diagnosed with dense breasts, speak with your physician about developing a screening plan that is customized to your individual situation.
The knowledgeable professionals at Women’s Imaging Specialists recommend a monthly breast self-exam, a yearly breast exam performed by your physician and a digital 3-D mammogram every year beginning at age 40. Digital 3D mammography and ultrasound has proven to be much more effective at detecting breast cancer in dense breasts that traditional film mammography regardless of age.
Your doctor will discuss a personal screening plan with you that may include:
• 3-D mammograms
• 3-D Ultrasound
• MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
3D Mammograms & 3D Ultrasounds for Dense Breasts in Stockbridge & Athens Georgia
If you or a close family member has been diagnosed with dense breasts, talk to your physician about developing a customized plan for early detection to meet your individual needs and ease anxiety.
To receive the most comprehensive information from your breast imaging results it is important to compare the previous year’s study with the current one as well as beginning your imaging studies at age 40 to establish a baseline.
It is not unusual to find that your test results from the recent imaging test will be different from past tests. Keep track of your test results by keeping a copy of each report in a folder and have them available to discuss any concerns with your doctor. For more information regarding 3D Mammography and 3D ultrasound, contact the experienced professionals at Women’s Imaging Specialists today.