Breast Density . A patient guide . Breast Density refers to the amount of fatty tissue and fibro-glandular tissue seen in the breast by mammogram. This is not something that can be felt on clinical breast exam. Breast Density is categorized into four different levels. Fatty – 10% of women
A patient guide
Breast Density refers to the amount of fatty tissue and fibro-glandular tissue seen in the breast by mammogram. This is not something that can be felt on clinical breast exam. Breast Density is categorized into four different levels.
Approximately 50% of women undergoing screening mammography are classified as having either "heterogeneously dense" or "extremely dense" breasts. For all of these women, the patient letter will inform them that they have "dense breast tissue." This is significant because the denser the tissue is it may make it more difficult to detect breast cancer (masking). The sensitivity of the mammogram (chance that disease will be detected) decreases with increasing density. Mammogram, however, is still recommended as a screening for breast cancer as there are many breast cancers that can only be detected by mammogram.Dense Breast Tissue
It is important to understand that every woman’s risk of breast cancer increases with age. The risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer during the next ten years of your life is as follows:
Having Dense Breasts is considered a risk factor for breast cancer. Only 10% of all women have "extremely dense" breast tissue, which is associated with a relative risk of breast cancer of approximately 2 compared with average breast density. This means at the age of 50 instead of having the 1 in 42 chance of breast cancer, the risk is 1 in 21.
A person’s overall risk of breast cancer depends upon other risk factors such as gene mutations, family history, and personal history. These factors combined with age and density can aid in deciding what the best breast cancer-screening plan is on an individual basis. The strongest risk factors for breast cancer are:
The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists – As of April 2014, they do not recommend routine use of alternative or adjunctive test to screening mammography in women with dense breasts who are asymptomatic and have no additional risk factors.
The New Jersey legislature mandated insurance coverage for any supplemental breast cancer screening deemed medically necessary in patients with “Extremely” dense breasts or those who have other risks factors.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee Opinion No 593. Management of women with dense breasts diagnosed by mammography. ObstetGynecol 2014 April; 123(4); 910-911.
If you feel you have risk factors, you may make an appointment with your doctor to discuss which screening modality is right for you.