According to recent surveys most women do not know about dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue (DBT) means that the breasts have more fibrous or glandular tissue instead of fatty tissue. You cannot tell if your breast tissue is dense based on the size or feel of your breasts. A doctor can tell you if you have dense breast tissue from a mammogram. About 40% of women have dense breast tissue.
Why does knowing if you have DBT matter?
Women with dense breast tissue are more likely to receive false negatives during a mammogram. Dense breast tissue makes it harder to spot tumors in mammogram pictures. In addition, dense breast tissue is also a risk factor for breast cancer. In a survey involving 2,311 women published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, only about half of women knew about breast density’s effect on cancer detection and cancer risk. As of 2015, twenty one states have legislation requiring disclosure of breast density information to patients. From the same 2,311 women, women from Connecticut, a state with breast density legislation in effect for over a year, knew more about breast density’s relationship to breast cancer and detection.
If I have DBT what should I do?
When cancer is found earlier, it is generally easier to treat. Finding cancer early depends on regular and effective screenings. Yearly mammograms starting at age 40 is the current breast cancer screening recommendation for healthy women. Women with dense breast tissue can benefit from additional screening such as a breast ultrasound or MRI. This also applies to women with breast implants. Ask your doctor if you have dense breast tissue. If you do, ask to receive additional screening such as a breast ultrasound or MRI during your annual breast cancer screening.
To learn more about DBT, visit Each One. Tell One., an organization dedicated to raising awareness about dense breast tissue. The organization travels around the U.S. on the Dangerous Boobs Tour to inform women about dense breast tissue’s relationship to breast cancer.