Dense Breasts: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
Breast density refers to the amount of different types of breast tissue visible on a mammogram; compared to normal breasts, dense breasts have relatively high amounts of glandular tissue and fibrous connective tissue and relatively low amounts of fatty breast tissue.
How do I know if I have dense breasts?
Because they contain a lot of breast tissue, dense breasts are also known as mammographically dense breasts.
How common are dense breasts?
Breast density is often inherited, but other factors, such as using postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy and having a low body mass index, can influence it.
How is breast density categorized?
Doctors use the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System to group different types of breast density. Breasts can be almost entirely fatty (A), have scattered areas of dense fibroglandular breast tissue (B), have many areas of glandular and connective tissue (C), or be extremely dense (D).
Does having dense breast tissue affect a woman’s mammogram?
Dense breast tissue makes mammography less sensitive, making it more likely to miss cancer signs, and it also puts women at a higher risk of interval breast cancer within 12 months of a normal mammogram.
Are dense breasts a risk factor for breast cancer?
Women with dense breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer than women with fatty breasts, and the risk rises with increasing breast density, independent of the effect of dense breasts on mammogram reading ability.
Are breast cancer patients with dense breasts more likely to die from breast cancer?
According to a study, breast cancer patients with dense breasts are no more likely to die from the disease than those with fatty breasts.
Should women with dense breasts have additional screening for breast cancer?
Many states now require women with dense breasts to be covered for additional tests, and ongoing clinical trials are evaluating the role of supplemental imaging tests in dense breasts. The National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service can help you learn more about clinical trials related to breast cancer screening.
What are researchers hoping to learn about the relationship between breast density and breast cancer?
Can imaging tests like 3-D mammography (breast tomosynthesis) help provide a clearer picture of breast density? Are there certain areas of dense breast tissue that are particularly “risky”? The National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Prevention supports research on cancer screening and risk factors, including breast density.
How do you know if you have dense breast tissue?
Dense breasts don’t look or feel any different than non-dense breasts, so you and your health care provider can’t tell if you have them based on their shape, size, firmness, or other factors. Dense breasts don’t look or feel any different than non-dense breasts.
Can dense breast tissue be painful?
Scattered fibroglandular breast tissue is a benign or noncancerous condition that causes lumpiness in one or both breasts and can be painful if cysts form. Female breasts are made up of fibrous and fatty tissue.
Do dense breasts feel firmer?
Many women with firmer breasts mistakenly believe they have dense breast tissue; however, dense breast tissue means you have more connective and glandular tissue than fatty tissue, which can only be determined by having a mammogram reviewed by a radiologist.
Should I worry about dense breast tissue?
Dense breast tissue is a common finding in women, with about half of all women having dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue means you have a higher proportion of glandular breast tissue to fatty tissue, making it more difficult to detect breast cancer on a mammogram.
Are small breasts more likely to be dense?
Dense breasts are more common in younger women and women with smaller breasts, but dense breasts can affect anyone, regardless of age or breast size.
Is it better to have fatty or dense breasts?
Scientists aren’t sure why having dense breasts increases your risk, but it does. Breast cancer patients with dense breasts aren’t more likely to die from the disease than those with non-dense ( fatty ) breasts.
Can dense breasts go away?
The good news is that breast density can decrease over time; however, women with persistently high breast density are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Can dense breasts feel lumpy?
Because dense tissue can feel fibrous or lumpy compared to more fatty tissue, detecting an abnormal spot can be trickier. If you’re one of the many women with dense breast tissue, you’ll need to get extra familiar with your breasts in monthly self-exams.
What causes breasts to be dense?
Breast density is often inherited, but other factors can influence it as well. Factors associated with lower breast density include getting older, having children, and taking tamoxifen, while factors associated with higher breast density include taking postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy and having a low BMI.
Does caffeine cause dense breast tissue?
There are few studies on caffeine and breast tissue density, and the results are mixed. A 2000 study found no link between caffeine and breast density, and a 2019 study of adolescents who consumed caffeine found no link between caffeine and breast density in premenopausal women.
How can I reduce my breast density naturally?
The following natural remedies may aid in breast reduction:
- Diet. Adipose tissue, or fat, makes up the majority of the breasts.
- Exercise. Exercise, like diet, can help a person lose body fat, which may help reduce breast size over time.
- Reduce estrogen.
- Change bra.
What vitamin helps dense breast tissue?
Vitamin D reduces proliferation and promotes differentiation and apoptosis in breast cells in culture, suggesting that it may play a role in breast density and breast carcinogenesis.
Is dense breast tissue normal?
Breast tissue is made up of milk glands, milk ducts, and supportive tissue ( dense breast tissue ), as well as fatty tissue ( nondense breast tissue ). Women with dense breasts have more dense tissue than fatty tissue when viewed on a mammogram.
What is the best mammogram for dense breasts?
In women with dense breasts, digital mammography is better than film mammography, regardless of age; your personal screening plan may also include a 3-D mammogram and an MRI.
Is 3D mammogram better for dense breasts?
“I recommend 3D mammograms for all women,” the breast radiologist said, “because they detect more cancers because they are not obscured by dense breast tissue.” This is true for women of all ages and breast density levels.