Do You Have Dense Breasts?

You may have heard this from your doctor: “Your mammogram indicates that you have dense breast tissue.” Did you know that dense breast tissue is relatively common, and is found in more than 40% of women? As a result, the presence of dense breast tissue makes it more difficult to detect abnormalities in your breast.  In fact, your physician may have also said that since you have dense breasts, it’s more difficult to detect abnormalities and may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. At ThermApproach, we can ‘see’ beyond what your annual mammogram can’t see.

As a matter of fact, in some states, women whose mammograms show heterogeneously dense or extremely dense breasts must be told that they have dense breasts in the summary of the mammogram report that is sent to patients (sometimes called the lay summary).

 Dense Breasts

Dense Breasts

The challenge of dense breast tissue is threefold. First, it’s difficult to detect a possible tumor when you have dense breasts. Second, very dense breast tissue on a mammogram (mammographic density) is considered to be one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer. Third, if you have denser breast tissue, the increase of recurrences and more aggressive diseases can be greater than women with less density.

Your breasts are made up of several tissues. Glandular tissue (the milk ducts and lobules), fatty tissue and connective tissue, which holds everything in place. Connective and glandular tissues are denser than fatty tissue, and this difference shows up on a mammogram.

Breast density is a term used to measure and compare the different types of tissue visible on a mammogram. The density of your breasts is seen only on a mammogram. Radiologists are the doctors who ‘read’ x-rays like mammograms. They check for abnormal areas, and also look at breast density.

Your breasts are defined as ‘dense’ on a mammogram if most of the tissue is glandular/connective tissue, and little fatty tissue, and you have ‘high’ breast density.  And the reverse is also true, if you have a greater amount of fatty tissue as compared to glandular and connective tissue, therefore, ‘low’ breast density.

Because of this, mammography may miss some types of breast cancer that are likely to be more dangerous once they are diagnosed. In 2009, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended against mammograms in women under the age of fifty. According to a clinical study out of Cambridge Breast Unit of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge (UK), younger women tend to have denser breasts than older women.

You may wonder, ‘how do I know if I have dense breasts’? It’s important to note, breast density isn’t based on how they feel. It’s not related to firmness, nor size.  In other words, you could have very small breasts, and still have dense breasts.  Conversely, you could have very firm breasts and not have dense breasts.

Coincidentally, both dense breast tissue is white on a mammogram and tumors are white on a mammogram, making it difficult to distinguish between the two types of tissue. This is a good analogy: It's like trying to find a snowball in a snowstorm. Therefore, it can lead to a false-positive on a mammogram report.

At ThermApproach, we use DITI (Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging) – thermography – that gives you a clear and accurate image of your breasts, dense or not.   This technique measures the temperature changes indicating physiologic changes that could help predict a greater likelihood of developing breast cancer. It is non-invasive, and emits zero levels of radiation, making it a safer way to look at your breasts.

What does all of this mean to you? If you’ve been told any of the above, i.e., you have dense breasts, you are at greater risk for cancer, then it’s time to begin having your breast health monitored via thermal imaging.  Thermography is the perfect adjunct to the mammogram because breast density is not a problem for the Thermogram.

At ThermAppoach, we utilize sophisticated infrared technology and innovative computer software to capture the images in the form of an infrared thermogram, or heat picture.  All reports are interpreted by medical doctors that are Board Certified in Thermology. 

Before you can feel it, thermal imaging can see it. Please call our office to schedule your screening today.