Dense breast tissue: What it suggests to have dense breasts

Dense breast tissue is detected on a mammogram. Extra imaging exams are occasionally suggested for girls with dense breasts.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If a current mammogram showed you have dense breast tissue, you may perhaps ponder what this suggests for your breast cancer hazard. Doctors know dense breast tissue tends to make breast cancer screening additional challenging and it boosts the hazard of breast cancer.

Assessment your breast cancer hazard things with your doctor and take into account your solutions for further breast cancer screening exams. Alongside one another you can make your mind up no matter whether further screening exams are ideal for you.

What is dense breast tissue?

Dense breast tissue refers to the visual appearance of breast tissue on a mammogram. It is a typical and frequent locating.

Breast tissue is composed of milk glands, milk ducts and supportive tissue (dense breast tissue), and fatty tissue (nondense breast tissue). When seen on a mammogram, girls with dense breasts have additional dense tissue than fatty tissue.

On a mammogram, nondense breast tissue seems darkish and transparent. Dense breast tissue seems as a sound white place on a mammogram, which tends to make it challenging to see via.

How do doctors ascertain if you have dense breast tissue?

The radiologist who analyzes your mammogram establishes the ratio of nondense tissue to dense tissue and assigns a level of breast density.

Concentrations of density are explained making use of a success reporting procedure termed Breast Imaging Reporting and Facts Technique (BI-RADS). The degrees of density are generally recorded in your mammogram report making use of letters. The degrees of density are:

  • A: Virtually fully fatty indicates that the breasts are just about fully composed of excess fat. About one in ten girls has this end result.
  • B: Scattered areas of fibroglandular density indicates there are some scattered areas of density, but the vast majority of the breast tissue is nondense. About 4 in ten girls have this end result.
  • C: Heterogeneously dense indicates that there are some areas of nondense tissue, but that the vast majority of the breast tissue is dense. About 4 in ten girls have this end result.
  • D: Exceptionally dense indicates that approximately all of the breast tissue is dense. About one in ten girls has this end result.

In typical, girls with breasts that are categorized as heterogeneously dense or extremely dense are deemed to have dense breasts. About 50 percent of girls going through mammograms have dense breasts.

What leads to dense breast tissue?

It is not crystal clear why some girls have a lot of dense breast tissue and others do not.

You may perhaps be additional very likely to have dense breasts if you:

  • Are young. Your breast tissue tends to turn out to be a lot less dense as you age, although some girls may perhaps have dense breast tissue at any age.
  • Have a reduced system mass index. Females with a lot less system excess fat are additional very likely to have additional dense breast tissue as opposed with girls who are overweight.
  • Consider hormone treatment for menopause. Females who take combination hormone treatment to reduce indicators and signs or symptoms of menopause are additional very likely to have dense breasts.

Why does breast density make a difference?

Owning dense breasts impacts you in two means:

  • Improves the opportunity that breast cancer may perhaps go undetected by a mammogram, given that dense breast tissue can mask a probable cancer
  • Improves your hazard of breast cancer, although doctors aren’t selected why

What exams are suggested for breast cancer screening?

Most clinical businesses endorse girls with an regular hazard of breast cancer take into account normal mammogram screening starting at age 40 and take into account repeating the screening annually.

Females with dense breasts, but no other hazard things for breast cancer, are deemed to have a better hazard of breast cancer than regular. They may perhaps profit from once-a-year breast cancer screening.

Dense breast tissue tends to make it additional challenging to interpret a mammogram, given that cancer and dense breast tissue both of those seem white on a mammogram. Really dense breasts may perhaps boost the hazard that cancer will never be detected on a mammogram.

Regardless of considerations about detecting cancer in dense breasts, mammograms are nevertheless efficient screening resources. The most frequent form of mammogram — digital mammogram — saves photographs of your breasts as digital files as an alternative of film and permits for additional in depth analysis. This is additional efficient at locating cancer in dense breast tissue than older film mammogram technology.

Are other exams additional efficient?

There is certainly some evidence that further exams may perhaps make it additional very likely that breast cancer is detected in dense breast tissue. But further exams carry further pitfalls, and no further screening system is proved to cut down the hazard of dying of breast cancer.

You and your doctor may perhaps take into account further or supplemental screening based mostly on your other hazard things and your particular preferences.

Supplemental exams for breast cancer screening may perhaps include:

  • three-D mammogram (breast tomosynthesis). Tomosynthesis utilizes X-rays to accumulate various photographs of the breast from a number of angles. The photographs are synthesized by a pc to type a three-D impression of the breast. Many mammogram centers are transitioning to include three-D mammograms as section of the regular mammogram technology.
  • Breast MRI. MRI utilizes magnets to generate photographs of the breast. MRI won’t use radiation. Breast MRI is suggested for girls with a quite higher hazard of breast cancer, these as these with genetic mutations that boost the hazard of cancer.
  • Breast ultrasound. Ultrasound utilizes audio waves to assess tissue. A diagnostic ultrasound is generally used to look into areas of worry uncovered on a mammogram.
  • Molecular breast imaging (MBI). MBI, also recognised as breast-certain gamma imaging, utilizes a particular digicam (gamma digicam) that data the exercise of a radioactive tracer. The tracer is injected into a vein in your arm. Usual tissue and cancerous tissue respond otherwise to the tracer, which can be seen in the photographs made by the gamma digicam. MBI is performed each other 12 months in addition to an once-a-year mammogram.

Each individual exam has professionals and drawbacks. While every single exam is proved to obtain additional breast cancers than a mammogram, none of these more recent imaging exams is proved to cut down the hazard of dying of breast cancer, as has been finished with the regular film mammogram.

Supplemental screening exam Professionals Downsides
three-D mammogram
  • Approximated to detect about one further cancer for every one,000 girls
  • Finished at the very same time as a regular mammogram
  • Decreases the will need for becoming termed again for further screening of areas of worry that aren’t cancer
  • Practical in assessing dense breast tissue
  • Exposes you to further radiation, although degrees are nevertheless quite small
  • Availability is becoming additional frequent
Breast MRI
  • Approximated to detect about 14 further cancers for every one,000 girls
  • No further radiation exposure
  • Broadly obtainable
  • Probably to obtain areas of worry that aren’t cancer, but that have to have further imaging or a biopsy
  • Demands injection of distinction material
  • High priced exam that might not be protected by insurance plan except you have a quite higher hazard of cancer
Breast ultrasound
  • Approximated to detect an further 2-4 cancers for every one,000 girls
  • No further radiation exposure
  • Broadly obtainable
  • Probably to obtain areas of worry that aren’t cancer, but that have to have further imaging or a biopsy
  • High quality of exam dependent on experience of particular person executing the exam
Molecular breast imaging
  • Approximated to detect about 7 further cancers for every one,000 girls
  • Considerably less very likely to obtain areas of worry that aren’t cancer
  • Consists of injection of a radioactive tracer, which exposes you to a quite small level of radiation
  • Readily available at handful of clinical centers