Q: What are dense breasts? Are they common?
A: Dense breasts have more fibroglandular tissue than fatty tissue. Many women have at least some areas of dense tissue in their breasts.
Q: Does dense tissue affect my risk of getting breast cancer?
A: Breast density does not determine whether or not someone has breast cancer, but can affect the likelihood. Women with denser breast tissue have a 1-6 times greater risk of developing breast cancer.
Dense breast tissue also affects cancer detection. Breast tissue is white on a mammogram. When there is more white tissue, it’s harder to detect lumps or tumors, which also appear in white. Mammograms for women with dense breasts may be less effective.
Q: What is the Breast Density Scale?
A: The breast density scale is used by mammography technologists to determine the amount of fat and glandular tissue within the breast. This varies for every individual, and is categorized as follows:
A. Breasts are almost entirely fatty - A white cancer shows up well amidst this gray background.
B. Scattered areas of fibroglandular density – Gray with scattered white elements.
C. Breasts are heterogeneously dense – There is a mix of fat and glandular tissue, making masses harder to see.
D. Breasts are extremely dense – The entire breast has large amounts of glandular tissue, making abnormalities hard to identify.
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