What should you do if you have dense breasts?
For women with dense breasts, it is important to know any other risk factors you may have for breast cancer. If you have other risk factors, you should talk with your healthcare provider about other screening options that may be available, including breast ultrasound and breast MRI.
If you have dense breasts, make sure you have your mammogram, and make sure you have it every 12 months. Digital mammography has been shown to be more accurate in women with dense breasts, so having a digital mammogram (one where there is digital detector connected to a computer rather than filmscreen) is advised. Have a careful clinical breast examination every 12 months.
Are there breast density laws?
Several states, most recently California, have passed laws requiring mammography results given directly to patients to include a statement as to whether the patient has dense breasts. Only one of those states, Connecticut, has included funds for additional screening (in this case breast ultrasound) of women with dense breasts. Knowledge is good - we wish other states included the funds to do additional screening if needed. More accurate means of classifying breast density and the effects of time on those risks are areas that need further study.
If there aren’t breast density laws in my state...
If you want to know your breast density, check the report from your mammogram. Because the laws don’t cover every state, you may have to be proactive to find this information. If you have dense breasts, talk with your doctor about all of your risks. Screening for cancer still starts with mammography, and should occur every 12 months if you are one of the approximately 40% of women who have dense breasts.
Dense breasts are not a problem in and of themselves, but they require effort to make sure you get the care you need. Being informed about your breasts and getting regular screening are key to making the healthy choice to take care of yourself!
Originally posted 4/12/13 on mammographykc.com.