Mammograms: What Does It Mean to Have Dense Breasts?

Mammograms: What Does It Mean to Have Dense Breasts?

So you've had your first mammogram and find you have dense breast tissue — now what? 

If you're unsure what your mammogram results mean, OB/GYN John Paul Roberts, MD, helps you navigate them. He offers compassionate and experienced care when you want to stay on top of your breast health.

Dr. Roberts has extensive experience in both gynecology and obstetrics and offers modern treatments when your mammogram results come back abnormal or when they indicate dense breasts.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an imaging test to detect early signs of breast cancer. This test and monthly self-exams are the best way to catch cancer early on.

You should get a mammogram at least every two years in your 40s and annually in your 50s. You can usually stop getting mammograms when you're over age 74 unless you're at increased risk for breast cancer.

Dr. Roberts recommends starting your screening earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer or you've found a suspicious lump in your breasts.

If you're concerned about your breast health, talk to Dr. Roberts and our team about your options. You can always have a mammogram earlier if Dr. Roberts says it's warranted based on your family history or personal health.

Understanding dense breast tissue

Your breasts are made up of three types of tissue — fibrous, glandular, and fatty. The amount of each kind of tissue determines the density of your breasts.

When you have a higher amount of fibrous and glandular tissue in your breasts than fatty tissue, we describe your breast tissue as dense.

Your mammogram report shows one of four types of breast density. These four categories are:

The first and last categories only occur in about 10% of women, while the middle two types are more common.

If you're in either category three or four, you’re considered to have dense breast tissue.

Is your risk of cancer increased?

Having dense tissue doesn't mean you'll have cancer, but the dense tissue does make it harder to find cancer cells on your mammogram study.

Cancer cells can hide in your breasts' dense fibrous and glandular tissues. It's easier to see early signs of cancer in fatty tissue.

Glandular and fibrous breast tissue shows white on your mammogram, but so do tumors and cancer cells. When you have extremely dense breast tissue, it's harder to differentiate between normal tissues and tumor cells.

Dr. Roberts stresses the importance of getting your mammograms regularly and doing self-exams on your breasts often.

When you do the exams, feel the entire way around your breasts and armpits to find any lumps or bumps that shouldn't be there. Don't hesitate to reach out to Dr. Roberts immediately if you find something.

For your convenience, Dr. Roberts offers mammogram screenings at our Plano, Texas office. Give us a call today to schedule your mammogram or book an appointment through our website.

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