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

Dense breast tissue is detected on a mammogram. Supplemental imaging exams are often suggested for gals with dense breasts.

By Mayo Clinic Team

If a modern mammogram confirmed you have dense breast tissue, you may marvel what this usually means for your breast cancer chance. Medical practitioners know dense breast tissue will make breast cancer screening a lot more complicated and it raises the chance of breast cancer.

Review your breast cancer chance elements with your medical doctor and consider your choices for more breast cancer screening exams. With each other you can choose whether or not more screening exams are proper for you.

What is dense breast tissue?

Dense breast tissue refers to the overall look of breast tissue on a mammogram. It is really a usual and popular getting.

Breast tissue is composed of milk glands, milk ducts and supportive tissue (dense breast tissue), and fatty tissue (nondense breast tissue). When considered on a mammogram, gals with dense breasts have a lot more dense tissue than fatty tissue.

On a mammogram, nondense breast tissue seems dim and transparent. Dense breast tissue seems as a reliable white area on a mammogram, which will make it complicated to see by means of.

How do physicians decide if you have dense breast tissue?

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

Levels of density are described using a results reporting process called Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS). The stages of density are frequently recorded in your mammogram report using letters. The stages of density are:

  • A: Just about entirely fatty suggests that the breasts are pretty much entirely composed of fats. About one in 10 gals has this outcome.
  • B: Scattered locations of fibroglandular density suggests there are some scattered locations of density, but the the vast majority of the breast tissue is nondense. About four in 10 gals have this outcome.
  • C: Heterogeneously dense suggests that there are some locations of nondense tissue, but that the the vast majority of the breast tissue is dense. About four in 10 gals have this outcome.
  • D: Incredibly dense suggests that practically all of the breast tissue is dense. About one in 10 gals has this outcome.

In basic, gals with breasts that are categorized as heterogeneously dense or particularly dense are deemed to have dense breasts. About 50 percent of gals going through mammograms have dense breasts.

What leads to dense breast tissue?

It is really not clear why some gals have a large amount of dense breast tissue and others do not.

You may be a lot more very likely to have dense breasts if you:

  • Are young. Your breast tissue tends to become less dense as you age, while some gals may have dense breast tissue at any age.
  • Have a lower body mass index. Females with less body fats are a lot more very likely to have a lot more dense breast tissue in comparison with gals who are overweight.
  • Just take hormone remedy for menopause. Females who just take blend hormone remedy to minimize signals and signs and symptoms of menopause are a lot more very likely to have dense breasts.

Why does breast density subject?

Obtaining dense breasts affects you in two methods:

  • Boosts the prospect that breast cancer may go undetected by a mammogram, considering that dense breast tissue can mask a potential cancer
  • Boosts your chance of breast cancer, while physicians aren’t selected why

What exams are suggested for breast cancer screening?

Most professional medical organizations propose gals with an common chance of breast cancer consider common mammogram testing commencing at age 40 and consider repeating the screening on a yearly basis.

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

Dense breast tissue will make it a lot more complicated to interpret a mammogram, considering that cancer and dense breast tissue both equally appear white on a mammogram. Extremely dense breasts may enhance the chance that cancer will never be detected on a mammogram.

Despite fears about detecting cancer in dense breasts, mammograms are even now effective screening applications. The most popular form of mammogram — electronic mammogram — saves images of your breasts as electronic documents rather of movie and allows for a lot more detailed assessment. This is a lot more effective at getting cancer in dense breast tissue than older movie mammogram technologies.

Are other exams a lot more effective?

You will find some evidence that more exams may make it a lot more very likely that breast cancer is detected in dense breast tissue. But more exams carry more dangers, and no more testing strategy is proved to minimize the chance of dying of breast cancer.

You and your medical doctor may consider more or supplemental testing primarily based on your other chance elements and your personalized choices.

Supplemental exams for breast cancer screening may include:

  • 3-D mammogram (breast tomosynthesis). Tomosynthesis takes advantage of X-rays to accumulate many images of the breast from many angles. The images are synthesized by a computer system to type a 3-D picture of the breast. Many mammogram centers are transitioning to include 3-D mammograms as aspect of the common mammogram technologies.
  • Breast MRI. MRI takes advantage of magnets to make images of the breast. MRI would not use radiation. Breast MRI is suggested for gals with a very substantial chance of breast cancer, this sort of as all those with genetic mutations that enhance the chance of cancer.
  • Breast ultrasound. Ultrasound takes advantage of audio waves to examine tissue. A diagnostic ultrasound is generally made use of to investigate locations of problem found out on a mammogram.
  • Molecular breast imaging (MBI). MBI, also acknowledged as breast-distinct gamma imaging, takes advantage of a exclusive digital camera (gamma digital camera) that information the action of a radioactive tracer. The tracer is injected into a vein in your arm. Ordinary tissue and cancerous tissue respond differently to the tracer, which can be observed in the images manufactured by the gamma digital camera. MBI is carried out just about every other year in addition to an once-a-year mammogram.

Every single test has pros and disadvantages. Whilst just about every test is proved to find a lot more breast cancers than a mammogram, none of these more recent imaging exams is proved to minimize the chance of dying of breast cancer, as has been accomplished with the common movie mammogram.

Supplemental screening test Professionals Negatives
3-D mammogram
  • Believed to detect about one more cancer for each one,000 gals
  • Accomplished at the exact same time as a common mammogram
  • Reduces the want for becoming called again for more testing of locations of problem that aren’t cancer
  • Valuable in assessing dense breast tissue
  • Exposes you to more radiation, while stages are even now very minimal
  • Availability is becoming a lot more popular
Breast MRI
  • Believed to detect about fourteen more cancers for each one,000 gals
  • No more radiation publicity
  • Widely accessible
  • Possible to find locations of problem that aren’t cancer, but that call for more imaging or a biopsy
  • Necessitates injection of contrast materials
  • High-priced test that could not be covered by insurance policies until you have a very substantial chance of cancer
Breast ultrasound
  • Believed to detect an more 2-four cancers for each one,000 gals
  • No more radiation publicity
  • Widely accessible
  • Possible to find locations of problem that aren’t cancer, but that call for more imaging or a biopsy
  • Quality of examination dependent on working experience of individual carrying out the test
Molecular breast imaging
  • Believed to detect about 7 more cancers for each one,000 gals
  • Less very likely to find locations of problem that aren’t cancer
  • Entails injection of a radioactive tracer, which exposes you to a very minimal amount of radiation
  • Available at couple of professional medical centers