SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In honor of breast cancer awareness month, 22News takes a look at the different issues facing those with the disease.
More than 40 percent of women have dense breasts, and when you have dense breasts you have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Most women will learn about their breast density after a mammogram. A dense breast is comprised of more glandular tissue, as compared to fat tissue.
Dense breast tissue is common however, it can make screenings and mammograms a little bit more challenging.
“There are two issues with dense breasts. Number one, is that it decreases the sensitivity of mammograms,” Dr. Dan Sieddiqui, Medical Director at Cooley Dickinson Hospital Cancer Center told 22News
A mammogram for breasts that are not dense has an 85% to 89% rate of detecting cancer. For women with dense breasts, that rate drops down to 60% to 70%. Meaning it can miss cancer up to 40% of the time.
“And secondly, because breast cancer develops in the glandular tissue, if one has more glandular tissue that means it’s an independent risk factor to develop breast cancer even more,” said Dr. Dan Sieddiqui.
If you have dense breasts, talk to your doctor about determining your personal risk. You may also be a candidate for a breast ultrasound or breast MRI, which is better at detecting smaller cancerous lesions that can be missed by mammography.
Currently, guidelines do not recommend additional screening for dense breasts, doctors must look at one’s personal and family health history to determine if additional screening is needed.