What Does it Mean if Breast Density is Mentioned in my Mammogram Results?

woman looking at exam resultsYou know that getting a yearly mammogram is the single most important test you can take that is essential in the early detection of breast cancer. What you might not know is that your breast density can play a role in your overall cancer risk, and women with dense breast tissue may want to take additional steps to get an accurate test result.

What Is Breast Density?

Breast tissue is made up of the following components:

  • Lobules
  • Ducts
  • Fibrous and fatty connective tissue

Lobules are glandular tissues that make milk while ducts are the tubes that send milk to the nipples. Everything else is connective tissue that is responsible for giving breasts their size and shape while holding the lobules and ducts in the correct place.

A woman that has dense breasts means more of the connective tissue is fibrous or glandular rather than fatty. Although most women have a higher percentage of fatty tissue than fibrous, it’s perfectly normal to have dense breasts. Additionally, many women will experience a change in their breast density as they age.

A mammogram will show whether you have high breast density. The radiologist who reads your mammogram results will look for areas of abnormality while also noting the density. There are four levels of breast density:

  1. Mostly fatty tissue
  2. Scattered areas of fibrous and glandular (dense) tissue
  3. Highly concentrated areas of fibrous and glandular (dense) tissue
  4. Almost completely dense breast tissue with little fatty tissue

How Does Breast Density Affect My Mammogram?

If the radiologist informs you that you have dense breast tissue, you may have questions about how that information will affect your mammogram results. One important factor is that dense breast tissue shows up white on a mammogram. This makes it harder for the radiologist to pinpoint abnormalities in breast tissue because tumors and masses also present as white on the test. Conversely, fatty breast tissue appears black on a mammogram, making it much easier to notice abnormalities.

Additionally, women with high breast density have a slightly higher chance of developing breast cancer than women with more fatty tissue. The reason for this discrepancy is unknown. However, mammograms are still the best testing method for detecting breast cancer and are highly recommended for women regardless of their breast density.

Talk to your doctor to decide if additional screening tests are right for you. Although opinions differ on their necessity, you might decide to get one or more of the following tests if you have dense breast tissue:

  • Ultrasound
  • MRI

Why Choose PURE Mammography?

At PURE, you’ll get a state of the art 3D mammogram in a licensed facility staffed by caring, friendly technicians and top-notch radiologists. As the only mammography center located inside a shopping mall at Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, we make it simple and convenient for women to stop by for a mammogram during the course of a busy day.

With extended weekday and weekend hours and no appointment necessary, getting a yearly mammogram has never been easier. Once inside PURE, you’ll love our spa-like atmosphere complete with plush robes, snacks, and relaxing exam rooms designed to put your mind at ease for a positive screening experience. Call us today at 631-652-3424 or browse our website for more information.

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