Dense breast tissue: What it means to have dense breasts

Dense breast tissue is detected on a mammogram. Added imaging assessments are occasionally proposed for gals with dense breasts.

By Mayo Clinic Team

If a recent mammogram confirmed you have dense breast tissue, you might marvel what this means for your breast most cancers risk. Medical doctors know dense breast tissue will make breast most cancers screening more difficult and it boosts the risk of breast most cancers.

Overview your breast most cancers risk aspects with your doctor and contemplate your selections for extra breast most cancers screening assessments. Together you can make a decision irrespective of whether extra screening assessments are proper for you.

What is dense breast tissue?

Dense breast tissue refers to the look of breast tissue on a mammogram. It is really a ordinary and typical finding.

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 more dense tissue than fatty tissue.

On a mammogram, nondense breast tissue seems dim and transparent. Dense breast tissue seems as a strong white area on a mammogram, which will make it difficult to see through.

How do doctors figure out 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.

Stages of density are described making use of a effects reporting program referred to as Breast Imaging Reporting and Facts Procedure (BI-RADS). The levels of density are often recorded in your mammogram report making use of letters. The levels of density are:

  • A: Just about entirely fatty implies that the breasts are nearly entirely composed of fats. About one in ten gals has this outcome.
  • B: Scattered parts of fibroglandular density implies 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 outcome.
  • C: Heterogeneously dense implies 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 outcome.
  • D: Very dense implies that practically all of the breast tissue is dense. About one in ten gals has this outcome.

In standard, gals with breasts that are categorised as heterogeneously dense or very dense are regarded as to have dense breasts. About half of gals undergoing mammograms have dense breasts.

What will cause dense breast tissue?

It is really not apparent why some gals have a great deal of dense breast tissue and other people do not.

You might be more probably to have dense breasts if you:

  • Are younger. Your breast tissue tends to become considerably less dense as you age, even though some gals might have dense breast tissue at any age.
  • Have a reduce body mass index. Women with considerably less body fats are more probably to have more dense breast tissue when compared with gals who are obese.
  • Choose hormone treatment for menopause. Women who consider blend hormone treatment to relieve signals and signs or symptoms of menopause are more probably to have dense breasts.

Why does breast density subject?

Getting dense breasts has an effect on you in two means:

  • Will increase the likelihood that breast most cancers might go undetected by a mammogram, given that dense breast tissue can mask a likely most cancers
  • Will increase your risk of breast most cancers, even though doctors usually are not specific why

What assessments are proposed for breast most cancers screening?

Most clinical companies advise gals with an ordinary risk of breast most cancers contemplate common mammogram tests starting at age 40 and contemplate repeating the screening on a yearly basis.

Women with dense breasts, but no other risk aspects for breast most cancers, are regarded as to have a increased risk of breast most cancers than ordinary. They might benefit from yearly breast most cancers screening.

Dense breast tissue will make it more difficult to interpret a mammogram, given that most cancers and dense breast tissue equally seem white on a mammogram. Incredibly dense breasts might increase the risk that most cancers is not going to be detected on a mammogram.

Despite worries about detecting most cancers in dense breasts, mammograms are still powerful screening resources. The most typical type of mammogram — electronic mammogram — will save visuals of your breasts as electronic files as a substitute of movie and enables for more in depth examination. This is more powerful at finding most cancers in dense breast tissue than older movie mammogram technological know-how.

Are other assessments more powerful?

There is certainly some evidence that extra assessments might make it more probably that breast most cancers is detected in dense breast tissue. But extra assessments have extra challenges, and no extra tests strategy is proved to lower the risk of dying of breast most cancers.

You and your doctor might contemplate extra or supplemental tests dependent on your other risk aspects and your personal choices.

Supplemental assessments for breast most cancers screening might contain:

  • three-D mammogram (breast tomosynthesis). Tomosynthesis works by using X-rays to gather many visuals of the breast from various angles. The visuals are synthesized by a computer system to variety a three-D picture of the breast. Numerous mammogram facilities are transitioning to integrate three-D mammograms as component of the regular mammogram technological know-how.
  • Breast MRI. MRI works by using magnets to produce visuals of the breast. MRI doesn’t use radiation. Breast MRI is proposed for gals with a incredibly higher risk of breast most cancers, these kinds of as those with genetic mutations that increase the risk of most cancers.
  • Breast ultrasound. Ultrasound works by using sound waves to review tissue. A diagnostic ultrasound is frequently utilized to look into parts of issue uncovered on a mammogram.
  • Molecular breast imaging (MBI). MBI, also identified as breast-certain gamma imaging, works by using a particular digital camera (gamma digital camera) that data 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 visuals generated by the gamma digital camera. MBI is executed every single other calendar year in addition to an yearly mammogram.

Every single exam has professionals and disadvantages. Although every exam is proved to come across more breast cancers than a mammogram, none of these newer imaging assessments is proved to lower the risk of dying of breast most cancers, as has been carried out with the regular movie mammogram.

Supplemental screening exam Professionals Downsides
three-D mammogram
  • Estimated to detect about one extra most cancers for every one,000 gals
  • Done at the very same time as a regular mammogram
  • Decreases the want for remaining referred to as back again for extra tests of parts of issue that usually are not most cancers
  • Useful in assessing dense breast tissue
  • Exposes you to extra radiation, even though levels are still incredibly reduced
  • Availability is starting to be more typical
Breast MRI
  • Estimated to detect about fourteen extra cancers for every one,000 gals
  • No extra radiation publicity
  • Widely available
  • Probable to come across parts of issue that usually are not most cancers, but that require extra imaging or a biopsy
  • Involves injection of contrast substance
  • High-priced exam that may not be coated by insurance policies except if you have a incredibly higher risk of most cancers
Breast ultrasound
  • Estimated to detect an extra two-4 cancers for every one,000 gals
  • No extra radiation publicity
  • Widely available
  • Probable to come across parts of issue that usually are not most cancers, but that require extra imaging or a biopsy
  • High quality of test dependent on practical experience of man or woman accomplishing the exam
Molecular breast imaging
  • Estimated to detect about 7 extra cancers for every one,000 gals
  • Significantly less probably to come across parts of issue that usually are not most cancers
  • Entails injection of a radioactive tracer, which exposes you to a incredibly reduced amount of radiation
  • Accessible at couple clinical facilities