Know Your Body.
Understand Your Options.
Are your breasts dense?
Dense breasts are normal; up to 40% of American women have them. It simply means that you have more fibrous, glandular breast tissue in your breasts than fatty tissue. Younger women typically have denser breast tissue. As women age, and especially after menopause, their breast tissue becomes less dense. If they take postmenopausal hormones, their breasts may remain dense.
Breast density is measured during your annual screening mammogram
All mammography reports from our center contain a breast density based on the following categories:
Why is breast density important?
While the reasons are not yet fully understood, women with denser breasts are at an increased risk for breast cancer. In addition, clinical studies have shown that women with dense breasts can benefit from a supplemental form of screening in addition to mammography.
For women classified as category 3 (heterogeneously dense) and category 4 (extremely dense), supplemental screenings can include breast MRI and Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound (ABUS).
Breast MRI is generally recommended for women who are determined to be at high risk for breast cancer (e.g. another family member was diagnosed with the disease). For most women ABUS is a less expensive and highly accurate form of screening. The Invenia™ 2.0 ABUS used at SIRA is the only ultrasound system that is FDA approved for breast cancer screening as an adjunct to mammography for women with dense breasts. In addition, it has been clinically proven to improve breast cancer detection by 35.7% over mammography alone, and is especially useful at detecting smaller and earlier stage cancers in women with dense breasts.
How does ABUS work?
During the exam, you will lie on a comfortable table and relax with one arm over your head. A technologist will uniformly guide an ultrasound probe in a series of “rows” over your breast. As the breast is scanned, the images will be stored for interpretation by one of our specially trained radiologists. The entire exam takes about 15 minutes and requires no breast compression or injections. A report will be sent to your referring physician and you will receive a letter with the findings. Further evaluation may be recommended as a result of this screening exam. If this is the case, your doctor will contact you to discuss your options.
Why haven’t I heard of breast density before?
The issue of breast density has only recently emerged into the national spotlight, and the majority of clinical research on the subject is less than ten years old. Approximately 36 states either have breast density notification laws or are in the process of passing one, and that number is growing. Recently, the Indiana state legislature passed a law mandating that women with dense breasts be notified of their breast density on their mammogram report.
The clinical evidence is clear, and this is not a medical “fad.” Breast density is not only a risk factor for breast cancer, but it can also impact a woman’s ability to achieve early detection using traditional methods. It is widely agreed that early detection is the key to surviving breast cancer, so any issue that can improve a woman’s confidence in her healthcare strategy must be considered.