If you have been told that you have ‘dense breasts’, you may have questions about how this diagnosis can affect your mammograms and your risk of breast cancer and the steps you need to take to stay healthy and informed.
The MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper Dense Breast Clinic team can provide you with answers and recommendations you need — quickly and definitively.
What are Dense Breasts?
Dense breasts refers to the appearance of breast tissue on a mammogram. It’s a normal and common finding. Breast tissue is composed of milk glands, milk ducts and supportive tissue (dense breast tissue), and fatty tissue (non-dense breast tissue). When viewed on a mammogram, as in the photo below, women with dense breasts have more dense tissue than fatty tissue. On a mammogram, non-dense breast tissue appears dark and transparent. Dense breast tissue appears as a solid white area on a mammogram, which makes it difficult to see through.
Why Does Breast Density Matter?
Having dense breasts can:
- Increase the chance that breast cancer may go undetected by a mammogram, since dense breast tissue can mask a potential cancer.
- Increase your risk of breast cancer, though doctors aren’t certain why.
Mammograms of dense breasts are harder to read than mammograms of fatty breasts. If you have dense breasts, your health care provider may recommend breast imaging studies in addition to regular screening mammograms.
How Can You Access this Service?
With one phone call to the MD Anderson Cooper Call Center, our team will make an appointment for you and put you in touch with our Breast Imaging Navigator, who will provide you with guidance and support throughout the evaluation process.
Our team will work with you to gather all appropriate breast imaging studies (reports and actual image files) so that our breast imaging specialists can review the studies before your appointment.
What Can You Expect?
During your appointment, our highly experienced breast nurse practitioner will review your existing breast imaging studies, perform a clinical breast exam, and evaluate your breast cancer risk.
After this thorough evaluation, our team will be able to determine if you should:
- Have other breast imaging studies to supplement your regular breast cancer screening mammogram.
- Schedule an appointment with our breast risk program and/or cancer genetics program.