We are midway through October 2018, Breast Cancer Awareness month and I realised today that it will be 3 yrs in December since I heard the words, you have Breast Cancer. In those 3 years I have learned a good deal about Breast Cancer and in particular a little known or spoken about risk factor called Breast Density. I would like to share some of what I have learned with you.
In February 2016 I began http://www.beingdense.com – Until after my own diagnosis of advanced Breast cancer I had been completely unaware of the issue of Breast density or its implications for women in terms of screening mammograms.
There are 4 levels of Breast Density –
40% of women have Dense Breasts. A Mammogram is the only way to determine and measure Breast Density. When you have a Mammogram, the radiologist reading it knows if you have Dense Breasts. You should ask for a copy of your radiology Mammogram report and ask if your breasts are dense.
In Dense Breasts the reliability of screening mammograms can be reduced by as much as 50%. Breast Density shows as white on a Mammogram and Cancer also shows as white, therefore Cancer tumours can be masked and obscured and may remain unseen on a screening Mammogram.
If you have Dense Breasts you need to know and you should ask your Doctor/Radiologist about more personalised screening such as Breast Ultrasound or MRI.
http://www.beingdense.com advocates for our Breast Screening program to notify all women with Dense Breasts and to recommend supplemental screening Ultrasound or MRI.
Having Dense Breasts is as big a risk factor as having a first relative with Breast Cancer. Women with Dense Breasts are more likely to present with interval breast cancer, discovered in between their routine screening mammograms. Interval Cancers are generally more advanced, larger and later stage tumours that will require more agressive treatment options and have a poorer prognosis.
Finally Breast Density is not palpable, it cannot be felt and it has nothing to do with breast size or shape. It is determined and measured by Mammograpy.
Be smart about Being Dense and please share this with your friends and family.