Breast Density and Breast Cancer Risk

Breast tissue is made up of varying mixtures of adipose or fatty tissues, glandular components, lymphatics and blood vessels. The fibrous and glandular tissues within the breast are generally described as fibroglandular densities.

Breast tissue is categorized by mammography in four classifications:

 
Fatty   Scattered Fibroglandular Densities
 
Heterogeneously Dense   Extremely Dense

Breast density can change throughout life. However, some women will have dense breasts throughout their lives.

Women with dense breasts are at a higher risk for breast cancer. Additionally, studies have shown that some cancers can be missed with mammography in women with dense breasts. These women may want to consider some type of supplemental breast cancer screening. This refers to additional screening exams that can be done in addition to (not instead of) regular mammograms. Options include breast MRI screening (for women who have additional risk factors) and screening breast ultrasound (SBU).

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