Dense Breast Tissue
At Edith Sanford Breast Center, we have the experts, technology and experience to care for your special needs, including
- Fellowship-trained breast radiologists
- 3D mammogram technology
- Team that has performed more than 50,000 3D mammograms
At Edith Sanford, we are actively involved in a number of research projects. We are searching for the answers to today’s difficult diagnostic and technical questions in order to provide our patients with leading imaging and treatment options.
To learn more, talk to your doctor about dense breast tissue or click here for a printable brochure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Almost entirely fat (10%)
Scattered fibroglandular (40%)
Heterogeneously dense (40%)
Extremely dense (10%)
What is dense breast tissue?
Breast density is essentially the ratio of fat to fibroglandular tissue in the breast. Most women fall into one of four categories.
Throughout your life, breast density can change. A change in density is not a reason for concern. From year to year you may be either more or less dense. This can change because of numerous factors including age, hormonal status, weight loss or gain, pregnancy and lactation as well as the radiologist’s interpreting the exam, particularly when you are at the threshold between two densities.
At Sanford, patients are notified if their mammogram shows that their breast tissue is dense (heterogeneously or extremely dense). Dense tissue is very common and is not abnormal.
Due to its structure, dense tissue may look like an abnormality or mask an actual finding on a regular mammogram. Mammographic sensitivity is actually decreased between 10 to 20 percent in women with dense breasts.
41 percent increase in invasive cancers detected
15 percent decrease in false alarms
29 percent increase in the detection of all breast cancers
What should I do?
Every woman should get a screening mammogram and clinical breast exam every year beginning at age 40.
Mammography is the only screening tool that has been demonstrated to lower breast cancer mortality. While mammography sensitivity is somewhat lower in women with extremely dense breasts, it is still the best modality for screening.
At Edith Sanford Breast Center, we offer 3D mammogram technology for women with dense tissue. In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association co-authored by one of Edith Sanford Breast Center’s fellowship-trained breast radiologists, Thomas Cink, MD, 3D screenings led to:
By producing a number of high-quality images, a 3D mammogram can pinpoint the size, shape and location of an abnormality, better than ever before.
Does this mean I’ll get cancer?
No. Breast density is an independent factor and has a small impact on your risk. The strongest risk factors for breast cancer, other than age and sex, are personal or family history (especially a first degree relative with premenopausal breast or ovarian cancer), and personal history of atypia on prior biopsy (ADH, ALH, LCIS). While neither of these risks, nor dense breasts, individually place a woman in the very high-risk category, they may identify those who would likely benefit from a full risk assessment at our Edith Sanford Breast Specialty Clinic.
Learn more about risk factors.