Do you have dense breasts?

Do you have dense breasts?

Imagine going in for your routine mammogram and being told you have dense breasts. You may wonder what does that mean?

Breasts contain glandular and fatty tissue. And when a patient’s breasts are mostly glandular tissue and little fat tissue, they are considered dense breasts.

Dr. Charisa M. Spoo, a diagnostic radiology medical director at Advocate Health Care, explains that breasts are given a density based on how they appear on a mammogram.

The 4 levels of density are:

Type A: Entirely fatty breast – indicates the breast is entirely composed of fatty tissue.

Type B: Scattered fibroglandular breast – indicates there is scattered dense tissue throughout the breast.

Type C: Heterogeneously dense – indicates half the breast is dense and the other half contains non-dense tissue.

Type D: Extremely dense indicates the entire breast tissue is dense.

Type C and D are categorized as dense breasts.

“Dense breasts tissue can be more challenging to interpret. But 3-D technology allows the mammographer to evaluate the breast tissue in detail,” says Dr. Spoo. “In coordination with a whole breast ultrasound or Automated Breast Ultrasound, we can evaluate the breast with different modalities for a complete evaluation of breast cancer.”

“The American College of Radiology recommends for people that have dense breasts to also get an automated breast ultrasound along with a mammogram,” shares Dr. Spoo. “It examines your tissue in a different way in evaluation for breast cancers.”

Although there are no symptoms of having dense breasts, Dr. Spoo shares how important it is to do a monthly self-examination to be familiar with your breast. “Dense breast may feel lumpy and bumpy, but it is important to be in tune with your breast. It may be difficult for someone to know if they have dense breasts, so it is best to have a clinical exam by your physician and a mammogram,” says Dr. Spoo.

Want to learn more about your risk for breast cancer? Take a free online quiz here. 

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  1. Patricia Olson August 9, 2022 at 8:12 am · Reply

    What if my mammograms show dense breasts some years but not in others?

  2. A big discrepancy from year-to-year led me into the frightening cycle of having mammograms every 3 months… because I had “dense breasts with some small spots of concern”. Turns out that the clinic had recently acquired a new machine, able to resolve tinier bits of the image. All of my anxiety turned to annoyance when I asked enough questions to figure out that it WASN’T a chance in my breasts at all, just an artifact of them using a new machine.
    Moral of my story, ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS.

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Brittany Grim