Breast Density and Going the Extra Mile (Part 1 of 2)
Mammography is an area in imaging with lots of rules mandated by state and federal regulations to ensure consistent high-quality breast imaging at all facilities. One of those rules is providing your report to you (in terms you can understand), in addition to the formal report sent to your doctor. In most facilities this report is mailed to the patient within a couple of weeks of the procedure.
But we believe in giving immediate results to the patient before she leaves our office because waiting for a report in the mail is so very last century, and so very disconcerting for women. Who wants to wait around wondering when a radiologist has the capacity to give a prompt assessment? We don’t want to wait for our results – we figure not many women do!
Laws that require informing patients of their breast density have been passed and/or considered in multiple states, and is a trend we expect to continue. We have begun to inform our patients of their breast density – not because we’re required to (we’re not in a state that requires it… yet) – we do it because understanding breast density helps in understanding risk and can help determine the best course of imaging.
So what’s the big deal with breast density? What is it?
Breast density has to do with the amount of glandular tissue in your breast. Tissue can range from fatty (with little glandular density, approximately 10% of women) to very dense – mostly glandular tissue (a different 10% of women). Most women, the remaining 80%, fall on a spectrum between scattered and/or patchy glandular tissue intermixed with fatty tissue.
A mammogram is like a fingerprint, totally unique to you. Your breast density and your mammogram may vary slightly with age and hormone status. Mammograms are made of varying shades of white and grey on a background of black. More glandular tissue means more whiteness on your mammogram. This poses something of a problem for a couple of reasons… (To be continued tomorrow-)
Originally published 8/20/13 on mammographykc.com.