What Does It Mean To Have Dense Breasts?

whya What does it mean to have dense breasts? Are you aware you have dense breasts? If you don’t know or aren’t sure, keep reading to find out how it can affect your breast imaging results and your risk of breast cancer.

Image of a breast density scan

Defining Dense Breasts

Breast density refers to the amount of glandular and fiber tissue. Dense breasts have mostly glandular tissue and just a little fat tissue. Your breast density can change a bit during your life, and only a breast screening can determine how dense your breasts are. It has nothing to do with your cup size or shape.

There are four levels of breast density, from most to least:

  • Extreme density
  • Heterogeneously dense (diverse)
  • Scattered fibroglandular
  • Almost entirely fatty breast tissue

About half of women have dense breasts. Why is all this important? The more dense a woman’s breast is, the harder it is to detect cancerous areas on the mammogram. Fibrous tissue appears white on a mammogram and so does cancerous tissue making it more difficult to see.

Breast Imaging Specialists

A radiologist trained specifically to read breast screening results is known as a breast imaging specialist, and they only read breast imaging tests. In fact, early stage cancers are more often found by breast imaging specialists.

You should receive a written report from the radiologist after the scan to give you a density rate.

Why Does Breast Density Matter?

As already discussed, it is harder for radiologists to detect cancer in the breast if it is mostly dense.

The second reason is that there is a higher risk for breast cancer in a woman with dense breasts. Researchers do not know why this is so.

Lastly, a woman with dense breasts should be sure to have her breast screening as her doctor directs.

Other Screening Options For A Woman With Dense Breasts

There are several other options if you have dense breasts.

  • The American Cancer Society recommends that a woman with dense breasts who has higher risk factors like family history or gene mutations should also have an MRI along with a mammogram.
  • A 3D mammogram is a more detailed and most advanced imaging technique available.
  • A breast ultrasound

Ask to see your report and find out your level of breast density.

Contact Southwest Diagnostic Imaging Center at (214) 345-6905 if you would like to schedule your breast imaging appointment or have further questions on your breast density.