I assumed I used to be doing every thing proper. I by no means missed my annual mammogram. I did self-exams, ate wholesome, and had no recognized danger elements for breast most cancers. But, someday I felt a lump. I wasn’t significantly nervous. I had lately had a “regular” mammogram, which didn’t detect something. Then I used to be despatched for a diagnostic mammogram, which additionally didn’t detect something. However an ultrasound the identical day revealed the heartbreaking information: I had breast most cancers. Why didn’t it present on the mammograms? It was then that I used to be informed that I had extraordinarily dense breasts and the not-so-small, not-so-early-stage most cancers was hidden by the dense tissue. I had by no means earlier than been informed I had dense breasts, by no means been informed that breast density elevated my danger for breast most cancers, by no means been informed that breast density significantly reduces the effectiveness of a mammogram, and, sadly, by no means been informed that further screening instruments had been accessible which could have detected my most cancers at an earlier stage.

Mammography is more practical in detecting cancers in some ladies than others. For ladies with dense breasts, most cancers usually grows unseen on mammography and subsequently, further screening could also be wanted.

Key Details:

  • Dense breast tissue is widespread: 40% of girls age 40 and over have dense breasts.
  • Breast density is set by way of a girl’s mammogram and described as one in all 4 classes relying on the quantity of breast tissue compared to fats within the breast.
  • Most cancers is 4 instances extra more likely to develop in ladies with extraordinarily dense breasts than in ladies with fatty breasts.
  • Although mammograms discover some cancers not seen on different screening assessments, in dense breasts, mammograms will miss as much as 40% of the cancers current.
  • In dense breasts, different screening assessments, reminiscent of ultrasound or particularly breast MRI, along with mammography, considerably improve detection of early-stage breast cancers.

Why does breast density matter?

Dense breasts improve each the chance of growing breast most cancers and the danger of that most cancers being missed by mammography.

Dense breast tissue reveals up as white on a mammogram, whereas fatty tissue is darkish grey. Sadly, cancers additionally show as white on a mammogram. If there’s a variety of dense tissue on a mammogram, a most cancers might be “hiding” among the many dense tissue. That is true even when the mammogram was completed with 3D/tomosynthesis. In search of a most cancers in a dense breast has been in comparison with searching for a snowball in a blizzard.

In dense breasts, a “regular,” “destructive,” or “benign” mammogram doesn’t essentially imply most cancers just isn’t current. Regardless of how current your final mammogram, a lump or any adjustments in your breast needs to be dropped at the eye of your well being care supplier.

Along with hiding most cancers, breast density can be one in all many recognized danger elements for breast most cancers. The better the density of the breast tissue, the upper the danger for growing breast most cancers.

How is breast density decided?

When you’ve your mammogram, your breast density is rated as one in all 4 classes:

  • Class A – Fatty                                                                                                                       
  • Class B – Scattered areas of fibroglandular density
  • Class C – Heterogeneously dense
  • Class D – Extraordinarily dense

Breasts that are Class C – Heterogeneously dense, or Class D – Extraordinarily dense, are thought of to be “dense” breasts.

How do I do know if I’ve dense breasts?

Typically, this data will probably be supplied to you by your well being care supplier, who may have acquired it from the power that carried out your mammogram. It could even be included within the letter you obtain after your mammogram is carried out. Many states (38 and the District of Columbia), now have legal guidelines that require some degree of details about breast density be included within the letter ladies obtain after their mammogram. Nonetheless, the legal guidelines differ from state-to-state. To be taught the reporting necessities in your state, please see the legislative map on DenseBreast-info.org.

Early detection issues, so be an knowledgeable self-advocate. All ladies ought to know their breast density and particular person danger elements, talk about the advantages and dangers of further screening with their well being care skilled, and pursue further screening if applicable for them, to make sure the earliest stage prognosis attainable.


Extra assets

Patient Video Series: Let’s Talk About Dense Breasts

In regards to the creator:

JoAnn Pushkin is govt director of DenseBreast-info.org. The web site, cited because the “newest and complete useful resource” on the subject, is the collaborative effort of world-renowned breast imaging specialists and medical reviewers.

Pushkin’s initiative and advocacy served as inspiration for New York State’s Breast Density Inform legislation. On the federal degree, she continues to steer efforts for a single nationwide “density” reporting commonplace by way of each the introduction of the Federal Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act, in addition to the FDA’s Mammography High quality Requirements Act regulatory modification consideration.