Dense breast tissue: What it means to have dense breasts

Dense breast tissue: What it usually means to have dense breasts

Dense breast tissue is detected on a mammogram. More imaging assessments are often recommended for gals with dense breasts.

By Mayo Clinic Team

If a current mammogram showed you have dense breast tissue, you may possibly marvel what this usually means for your breast cancer hazard. Health professionals know dense breast tissue will make breast cancer screening additional tricky and it increases the hazard of breast cancer.

Review your breast cancer hazard aspects with your physician and take into consideration your possibilities for supplemental breast cancer screening assessments. Together you can decide no matter if supplemental screening assessments are ideal for you.

What is dense breast tissue?

Dense breast tissue refers to the physical appearance of breast tissue on a mammogram. It’s a typical and popular 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, gals with dense breasts have additional dense tissue than fatty tissue.

On a mammogram, nondense breast tissue appears dim and clear. Dense breast tissue appears as a solid white region on a mammogram, which will make it tricky to see via.

How do medical professionals identify if you have dense breast tissue?

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

Ranges of density are described utilizing a benefits reporting technique identified as Breast Imaging Reporting and Facts Procedure (BI-RADS). The amounts of density are usually recorded in your mammogram report utilizing letters. The amounts of density are:

  • A: Pretty much entirely fatty signifies that the breasts are practically entirely composed of extra fat. About 1 in ten gals has this final result.
  • B: Scattered parts of fibroglandular density signifies there are some scattered parts of density, but the the vast majority of the breast tissue is nondense. About 4 in ten gals have this final result.
  • C: Heterogeneously dense signifies that there are some parts of nondense tissue, but that the the vast majority of the breast tissue is dense. About 4 in ten gals have this final result.
  • D: Extremely dense signifies that almost all of the breast tissue is dense. About 1 in ten gals has this final result.

In common, gals with breasts that are classified as heterogeneously dense or exceptionally dense are deemed to have dense breasts. About half of gals undergoing mammograms have dense breasts.

What triggers dense breast tissue?

It’s not obvious why some gals have a whole lot of dense breast tissue and some others do not.

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

  • Are more youthful. Your breast tissue tends to turn into a lot less dense as you age, while some gals may possibly have dense breast tissue at any age.
  • Have a reduced system mass index. Women of all ages with a lot less system extra fat are additional very likely to have additional dense breast tissue compared with gals who are obese.
  • Take hormone treatment for menopause. Women of all ages who take mixture hormone treatment to reduce signs and signs of menopause are additional very likely to have dense breasts.

Why does breast density subject?

Acquiring dense breasts impacts you in two means:

  • Increases the likelihood that breast cancer may possibly go undetected by a mammogram, given that dense breast tissue can mask a opportunity cancer
  • Increases your hazard of breast cancer, while medical professionals are not certain why

What assessments are recommended for breast cancer screening?

Most professional medical businesses recommend gals with an ordinary hazard of breast cancer take into consideration standard mammogram tests beginning at age forty and take into consideration repeating the screening annually.

Women of all ages with dense breasts, but no other hazard aspects for breast cancer, are deemed to have a higher hazard of breast cancer than ordinary. They may possibly benefit from yearly breast cancer screening.

Dense breast tissue will make it additional tricky to interpret a mammogram, given that cancer and dense breast tissue the two seem white on a mammogram. Incredibly dense breasts may possibly raise the hazard that cancer will not likely be detected on a mammogram.

Despite worries about detecting cancer in dense breasts, mammograms are even now successful screening equipment. The most popular kind of mammogram — electronic mammogram — saves pictures of your breasts as electronic files instead of film and will allow for additional in-depth examination. This is additional successful at locating cancer in dense breast tissue than older film mammogram technology.

Are other assessments additional successful?

You will find some proof that supplemental assessments may possibly make it additional very likely that breast cancer is detected in dense breast tissue. But supplemental assessments carry supplemental pitfalls, and no supplemental tests method is proved to lower the hazard of dying of breast cancer.

You and your physician may possibly take into consideration supplemental or supplemental tests dependent on your other hazard aspects and your personal choices.

Supplemental assessments for breast cancer screening may possibly consist of:

  • 3-D mammogram (breast tomosynthesis). Tomosynthesis works by using X-rays to accumulate several pictures of the breast from a number of angles. The pictures are synthesized by a computer to sort a 3-D image of the breast. Numerous mammogram facilities are transitioning to integrate 3-D mammograms as component of the normal mammogram technology.
  • Breast MRI. MRI works by using magnets to generate pictures of the breast. MRI isn’t going to use radiation. Breast MRI is recommended for gals with a quite large hazard of breast cancer, these kinds of as all those with genetic mutations that raise the hazard of cancer.
  • Breast ultrasound. Ultrasound works by using seem waves to review tissue. A diagnostic ultrasound is typically applied to look into parts of problem found out on a mammogram.
  • Molecular breast imaging (MBI). MBI, also known as breast-specific gamma imaging, works by using a particular camera (gamma camera) that information the exercise of a radioactive tracer. The tracer is injected into a vein in your arm. Standard tissue and cancerous tissue react in different ways to the tracer, which can be found in the pictures created by the gamma camera. MBI is performed each and every other year in addition to an yearly mammogram.

Each individual take a look at has pros and negatives. Though each individual take a look at is proved to obtain additional breast cancers than a mammogram, none of these newer imaging assessments is proved to lower the hazard of dying of breast cancer, as has been accomplished with the normal film mammogram.

Supplemental screening take a look at Professionals Drawbacks
3-D mammogram
  • Approximated to detect about 1 supplemental cancer for every 1,000 gals
  • Finished at the similar time as a normal mammogram
  • Lessens the need to have for getting identified as back for supplemental tests of parts of problem that are not cancer
  • Practical in assessing dense breast tissue
  • Exposes you to supplemental radiation, while amounts are even now quite very low
  • Availability is becoming additional popular
Breast MRI
  • Approximated to detect about 14 supplemental cancers for every 1,000 gals
  • No supplemental radiation publicity
  • Broadly available
  • Likely to obtain parts of problem that are not cancer, but that demand supplemental imaging or a biopsy
  • Involves injection of distinction product
  • Expensive take a look at that could possibly not be included by insurance policy until you have a quite large hazard of cancer
Breast ultrasound
  • Approximated to detect an supplemental two-4 cancers for every 1,000 gals
  • No supplemental radiation publicity
  • Broadly available
  • Likely to obtain parts of problem that are not cancer, but that demand supplemental imaging or a biopsy
  • Quality of exam dependent on working experience of particular person undertaking the take a look at
Molecular breast imaging
  • Approximated to detect about 7 supplemental cancers for every 1,000 gals
  • A lot less very likely to obtain parts of problem that are not cancer
  • Consists of injection of a radioactive tracer, which exposes you to a quite very low degree of radiation
  • Available at few professional medical facilities