Dense breast tissue and breast cancer
Dense breast tissue means that a breast contains proportionately more mammary glands and less fatty tissue. Another term for this is dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue is usually the result of hereditary factors, as mothers and grandmothers often have dense mammary gland tissue. In addition, age plays a role.
The younger a woman is, the denser her breasts are. Older women usually have a lower breast density. Finally, women who receive hormone replacement therapy after menopause are more likely to experience higher breast density
Higher risk of breast cancer
Women with very dense glandular tissue have a higher risk of breast cancer than women with less dense glandular tissue. In addition, a breast with very dense glandular tissue is more difficult to examine with a mammography. Small tumors and DCIS are less noticeable.
Breast cancer can be detected faster in women with a low breast density than in women with a high breast density (dense mammary gland tissue). Because it is difficult to detect a tumor in the breast with dense breast tissue, women with dense breast tissue are more likely to have false negative mammograms than women who do not.
The dense breast tissue itself is also a risk factor for breast cancer in both breasts. However, not all women with dense breast tissue will develop breast cancer.
Most women have dense glandular tissue before the menopause. With age, the density of the glandular tissue decreases. Between the ages of 40 and 50, 2 out of 3 women have dense glandular tissue.
Most women with breast cancer are between the ages of 50 and 70. About 1 in 12 Dutch women who have had a mammogram are found to have very dense glandular tissue.
The density of the glandular tissue is partly genetically determined. Hormones and age also have an influence. You have no influence on this yourself and most of the time you don’t know it either. Dense mammary tissue does not cause any complaints.
Dense glandular tissue on the mammography
Mammography is a slightly less suitable method of examination for women with dense breast tissue than for women with non-dense glandular tissue.
On the mammogram, the fatty tissue of the breast is black and the glandular tissue is white. Any cancer cells will also look white on the mammogram. This makes detecting cancer more difficult in a breast with dense glandular tissue.
Additional examinations after mammography
Sometimes further testing is needed after the mammography. .Then you will be referred to the hospital. The radiologist will indicate which additional examinations are necessary.
Women with dense breasts are advised to undergo mammograms and possibly other tests in addition to them.
Mammograms cannot detect some breast cancers that can be found with breast ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
However, MRIs and ultrasounds both reveal additional findings that are not cancerous. The result can be more tests and unnecessary biopsies.
Additionally, some insurance policies will not cover ultrasounds and MRIs.
Mammograms can also miss some types of cancer with digital mammography (3D mammography).
Discuss your mammogram report with your doctor if it indicates that you have dense breast tissue.
If you have a medical history that puts you at risk for breast cancer, be sure to tell your doctor or nurse.
Any woman who has a high-risk factor for breast cancer (such as genetic mutations or a strong family history) should have a yearly mammogram and an MRI.
we created this website to make more woman aware of breast cancer and to take a good look on the way you life and what you can do to improve your way of living healthy wise .