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Breast density has been all over the news the past few weeks with the FDA proposing a new rule that would require mammogram providers to tell women if they have dense breasts which would be a major win for women everywhere. Did you know that about 40% of women in the United States have dense breasts- with Black women having a higher rate? We have the lowdown on what exactly is breast density and how to find out if your girls are dense.
What does it mean if I have dense breasts?
Your breasts contain several types of tissue, from glandular lobes that create milk when you are pregnant, to lymph and blood vessels, to fatty tissue. Breast density is a way to measure how much of your breast is made up of fatty tissue. Dense breasts contain less fatty tissue. Since dense tissue and tumors both appear white on a mammogram, dense breast tissue can make it hard to find tumors or other changes in the breast on a mammogram.
How does breast density affect my breast cancer risk?
In addition to making cancer detection more difficult, breast density also increases your risk of breast cancer. Studies show that having dense breasts can double your risk of getting breast cancer. Ugh.
Who is more likely to get dense breasts besides Black women?
- Premenopausal women
- Postmenopausal women taking hormone therapy
- Women who have a lower BMI
- Young women
The medical community is not entirely sure Your breast density can change as you age, or as your bodyweight changes.
How do I find out if I have dense breasts?
The only way to truly know if you have dense breasts is through mammography. Some states have laws that say a radiologist/healthcare provider must inform you if you have dense breasts, and some states don’t. Your best bet? Talk with your healthcare provider and ask them directly if you have dense breasts.
What happens next?
If a radiologist determines that you have dense breasts, talk to your healthcare provider about what screening options are available to you, taking into account other risk factors like family history of breast cancer, personal health history, and lifestyle. Currently, there are no guidelines or recommendations for increased or additional screening for women with dense breasts.
What types of screening are available and when are they used?
- 2D Mammogram: This is the most common form of mammography. Your personal and family health history will determine when you start screening.
- 3D Mammogram: This technology is becoming more widely available and proven to be more accurate than 2D mammography.
- Breast MRI: This can be used in addition to mammography if your provider wants a more accurate reading. This can be utilized for women at elevated risk.
- Breast Ultrasound: This can be used to look more closely at something suspicious. It can also be helpful in addition to mammography for women with dense or fibrocystic breasts.
Awareness in Action™
Our girls come in all different types of sizes, shapes, and varying densities. Text BRIGHT to 59227 and reply Y, or sign up here, for Bright Pink’s Breast Health Reminders™. We’ll send you regular reminders to check in with your breasts so that you can better define what’s normal for YOU. You are just one text message away from living your #breastlife.