What You Need to Know About Dense Breast Tissue

While having dense breast tissue is completely normal and very common, research has shown that women with dense breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer than those who don't. Here's what you need to know about dense breasts and the steps you can take to make sure you catch any issues early so you can stay healthy.

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What is Breast Density?

Breast density is a measurement of how much fibrous and glandular tissue your breasts have. All breasts have fibrous tissue (aka connective tissue), glandular tissue (the tissue that produces milk), and fatty tissue. People with dense breast tissue have more fibrous and glandular tissue and less fatty tissue than women who don't have dense breasts.

According to the CDC, about 10% of women have almost entirely fatty breasts. 40% of women have a few areas of dense tissue throughout their breasts. Another 40% have evenly dense breasts, and 10% have extremely dense breasts. All of these types of breast tissue are completely normal.

Who is More Likely to Have Dense Breast Tissue?

Many women will have dense breast tissue at some point in their lives, but some factors can make it more likely that your breasts will be dense.

These include:

Youth: Younger women tend to have denser breasts. Breast tissue usually becomes less dense as you age, but you can have dense breast tissue at any time in your life.

Lower body weight: Women with less body fat are more likely to have denser breast tissue than women with more body fat.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): If you take hormone replacement therapy to relieve the symptoms of menopause, it is more likely that you will have dense breasts.

Why is Breast Density Important?

Breast density is important because it is associated with higher breast cancer risk. Couple that with the fact that denser tissue makes it harder to spot cancer on a mammogram, and you can easily see why breast density is so important: Cancer is more likely to occur and harder to find when it does.

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How do I know if I have Dense Breast Tissue?

The only way you can tell if you have dense breast tissue is to have a mammogram. The size and firmness of your breasts have nothing to do with their density. Breast density can be hereditary, but If your mom or sister has dense breast tissue, it doesn't mean that you do too. Everyone is different and breast density can change throughout your life as you age, as you have children, and even as you gain or lose weight.If you don't know if you have dense breasts, talk to your doctor. Mammogram results don't always provide that information to patients, but your doctor should be able to tell you.If you've had a mammogram and you've been told you have dense breast tissue, don't worry. It does not mean that you're going to get cancer. It just means that further screening may be necessary.

What Should I Do if I Have Dense Breast Tissue?

Dense breasts are just one of the breast cancer risk factors, so talk to your doctor about it. To be on the safe side, it's an excellent idea to get a breast ultrasound to make sure that nothing was missed on a mammogram.                                                   

Breast ultrasounds are safe at any age and can bring tremendous peace of mind knowing that you've been thoroughly checked for cancer.

Breast Density and Mammograms

Even though mammography is a very effective screening tool, it misses about 13% of breast cancers. The problem is that dense breast tissue and cancer both appear white on a mammogram. This makes it very difficult for radiologists to spot any issues. The denser the tissue is, the harder it is to see cancer. Additional screening is the only way to make sure there's nothing going on.

How Can Ultrasound Help Breast Cancer Screening if You Have Dense Breast Tissue?

Adding ultrasound to your annual screening can greatly improve breast cancer detection in dense breast tissue. It's particularly good at finding small cancers very early on that haven't spread yet and can't be felt during a physical exam. This is because cancerous tissue appears black in an ultrasound and breast tissue appears white. It's much easier to spot any issues so that you can take action and get treated. If you find breast cancer early you have a better chance at a full recovery with the least amount of treatment necessary.

Dense Breast Tissue

How Can Eve Wellness Help?

We are completely dedicated to helping women of all ages stay on top of their breast health. If you have dense breast tissue, or even if you don't and just want to start screening earlier in your life, we're here to help you get the peace of mind knowing that you're doing everything you can to stay healthy.Our advanced, FDA-Approved ultrasound technology coupled with FDA-Approved Artificial Intelligence does not expose you to any radiation, which means that you can screen earlier and more frequently.

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