SCREENING FOR WOMEN WITH DENSE BREASTS
Women with dense breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer. Having dense breasts is very common and a normal characteristic of breast tissue. It is a feature you cannot change.
Dense breasts are identified on your yearly mammogram. When you get a mammogram, the report you receive will mention if your breasts are dense, and if so how dense. This helps the radiologist determine if you may benefit from additional breast studies.
WHAT ARE DENSE BREASTS?
Breasts contain both fibrous and glandular tissue as well as fat. Breast density describes the amount of fibrous and glandular tissue compared with the amount of fat. Dense breasts have more fibrous and glandular tissue than fatty tissue. For most women, breasts become less dense with age. But in some women, there’s little change over the years. It’s unclear why dense breast tissue is linked to breast cancer risk. Having dense breasts may also make it harder to see signs of cancer on a mammogram. Therefore an ultrasound may be recommended to supplement your mammogram.
IF YOU HAVE DENSE BREAST TISSUE
If you have dense breasts, talk with your healthcare provider about adding an ultrasound to your yearly screening mammogram. Adding a breast ultrasound to a mammogram may be more effective in finding cancer in dense breasts. Even If you have dense breasts, you should still have your yearly mammogram. The mammogram is still the gold standard in breast cancer screening, and most breast cancers can be seen on a mammogram, even in women with dense breast tissue.
WHAT BREAST CANCER SCREENING TESTS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BREAST CENTER AT MONTEFIORE NYACK HOSPITAL?
At The Breast Center at Montefiore Nyack Hospital, we offer the full range of breast cancer screening services. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained radiologists have access to the most sophisticated technology to help detect breast cancer at its earliest stages. Learn more about our screening services below.
3D Mammography, also known as 3D Tomosynthesis, uses multiple X-rays to create a 3D image of the breast. It’s the most advanced imaging for breast cancer detection at the lowest possible radiation dose. 3D mammography is more effective than the previously utilized 2D mammography in detecting cancers earlier and also decreases the need for women to be called back for additional testing. This type of mammogram is very good for women with dense breasts, which can make it harder for the radiologist reading the test to see a cancer.
Breast Ultrasound uses sound waves to make images. It’s used on its own or in combination with mammograms to provide additional detail about an area. Ultrasound can sometimes find cancers not seen on mammograms.
Breast MRI(magnetic resonance imaging) expands our ability to diagnose early-stage breast cancers that may not be visible on mammography or ultrasound. It’s a highly sensitive exam that uses radio waves and powerful magnets to create detailed images of breast tissue. Some women with a strong family history of breast cancer, who have a breast cancer gene, or other high-risk characteristics may benefit from having an MRI added to their annual mammogram and ultrasound screening.