How Do Dense Breasts Affect Your Breast Cancer Risk?

Feb 16, 2023
How Do Dense Breasts Affect Your Breast Cancer Risk?
While there are many factors that play into your risk of developing breast cancer, one of those things is having dense breasts. Keep reading to learn how dense breasts affect your risk for breast cancer.

Research shows that nearly 50% of women have dense breasts. Women with dense breasts are twice as likely to develop breast cancer as women who have non-dense breasts. 

There are several factors that increase your chance of having more or less dense breasts. Those factors include age, genetics, using hormone replacement therapy, giving birth, or body mass index (BMI).

While having dense breasts isn’t a serious medical condition in and of itself, it can affect both your risk for developing breast cancer and the likelihood of detecting breast cancer effectively.

Karen Mass, MD, FACOG and the rest of our team at Women’s Specialty Care go over how dense breasts affect cancer risk and what treatments we offer to combat that risk.

Explaining dense breasts

Dense breasts can only be detected on a mammogram since they present with no symptoms or physical signs. You can’t determine if you have dense breasts based on the size, shape, or feel of your breasts. Having dense breasts simply means you have higher amounts of glandular and connective tissues than fatty tissue in your breasts.

When you have dense breasts and have a higher amount of glandular and connective tissues, it not only increases your risk for developing breast cancer, but it also decreases the chances of cancer being detected properly. 

Dense breast tissue appears white on a mammogram, and so does anything potentially cancerous, which makes the test results difficult to read efficiently. 

Breast cancer screening for dense breast tissue

The good news is that there are plenty of supplemental breast cancer screenings available to make sure women who have dense breasts can get accurate test results.

At Women’s Specialty Care, we offer the automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) test along with a 3D mammogram in order to get the most accurate screening for breast cancer and any other breast abnormalities.

The 3D mammogram not only uses state-of-the-art technology, but it also allows you to control the compression of the exam to help you feel as comfortable as possible for the duration of the screening.

On the other hand, the ABUS uses sound waves rather than X-rays for imaging, and together with the 3D mammogram, it can provide a comprehensive view of your breast tissues.

The bottom line 

If a mammogram shows that you have dense breasts, you’ll need both a mammogram and an ABUS exam every year in order to make sure we’re able to detect cancer early enough to be diagnosed and treated properly.

If you’re due for a mammogram, schedule one today with our office. Mammograms are an essential part of early breast cancer detection.

To schedule an appointment with us, use our online scheduler, or call either of our office locations.