What is dense breast tissue?

Half of all women have dense breast tissue.  Dense breast tissue simply means a woman’s breast has lots of milk glands and ducts and less fat than other women’s breasts.  Factors that can contribute to dense breast tissue are age, hormones, and genetics.

Dense breast tissue itself does not increase the future risk of breast cancer.  However having dense breast tissue does make early detection of breast cancer difficult on a mammogram.  Cancer shows up as white on a mammogram.  Dense breast tissue also shows up white on a mammogram.  When a woman has a lot of dense breast tissue, it is harder to pick up small cancers on a screening mammogram.

Breast Ultrasounds

Research shows that a woman with dense breast tissue will benefit from breast ultrasounds.  Having a breast ultrasound helps your provider see through the dense breast tissue.  As a result, when women with dense breast tissue supplement their yearly mammogram with an ultrasound, the combined screening increases the liklihood of detecting breast cancer early.  

It is recommended that women with dense breast tissue have an annual ultrasound on both breasts when they have annual mammograms. Patients with dense breast tissue will have ultrasounds along with their annual mammograms at Lourdes Women's Health Center.

Women do not need insurance pre-authorizations for these ultrasounds if the ultrasound is ordered for dense breast tissue by a health care provider.

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