Women whose breasts appear dense on mammograms have a higher risk for some aggressive breast cancers. One of the strongest known risk factors for breast cancer is high breast density — that is, relatively little fat in the breast and more connective and glandular tissue, as seen on a mammogram. Now, a study has found that higher breast density in postmenopausal women increases the risk of specific types of breast cancer, including some that have a relatively poorer prognosis.
Dense breasts have less fatty tissue and more non-fatty tissue compared to breasts that aren't dense. Dense breasts have more gland tissue that makes and drains milk and supportive tissue also called stroma that surrounds the gland. Breast density can be inherited, so if your mother has dense breasts, it's likely you will, too.
Women with low breast density have more fatty tissue compared to glandular tissue while women with high breast density have more glandular tissue compared to fatty tissue. Breast density describes how breasts look on a mammogram. It does not describe how breasts feel on examination by a woman or their doctor.
Having dense breasts is one of the risk factors associated with breast cancer. Most women do not know whether or not they have dense breasts because this characteristic can't be identified based on appearance or firmness of your breasts. Breast density can only be established with an imaging examination, such as a mammogram.
Dense breast tissue is detected on a mammogram. Additional imaging tests are sometimes recommended for women with dense breasts. If a recent mammogram showed you have dense breast tissue, you may wonder what this means for your breast cancer risk.
All breasts contain glands, fibrous tissue, and fat. Dense tissue is made of glands and fibrous tissue referred to as "fibroglandular" tissue. Dense tissue blocks x-rays and therefore shows up white on a mammogram.
Radiologists characterize each mammogram into one of four levels of overall density: almost entirely fatty, scattered areas of fibroglandular density, heterogeneously dense, and extremely dense. There are two primary implications of mammographic breast density. The first involves the effect on mammographic sensitivity i.
Breasts contain glandular, connective, and fat tissue. Breast density is a term that describes the relative amount of these different types of breast tissue as seen on a mammogram. Dense breasts have relatively high amounts of glandular tissue and fibrous connective tissue and relatively low amounts of fatty breast tissue.
Some mammogram reports sent to women mention breast density. Your health care provider can also tell you if your mammogram shows that you have dense breasts. In some states, women whose mammograms show heterogenously dense or extremely dense breasts must be told that they have dense breasts in the summary of the mammogram report that is sent to patients sometimes called the lay summary. Dense breast tissue is common and is not abnormal.