Is Breast Density Directly Linked to Breast Cancer?

Is Breast Density Directly Linked to Breast Cancer?

There has been some discussion amongst medical professionals, whether there is a direct correlation between breast density and breast cancer. One should consider everything when it comes to personal health. It is crucial to find and prevent any underlying health issues from becoming life-threatening. However, at this time, evidence is leaning in one direction.

What Determines Breast Density?

According to Dr. John F. Garafolo breast density is determined by three types of tissue:

  • Glandular tissue – Glandular tissue includes the cells that produce milk as well as the milk ducts.
  • Fibrous tissue – Fibrous tissue is connective tissue like ligaments.
  • Fatty tissue – Fatty tissue is a spongy material that fills the regions between glandular and fibrous structures. 

Fatty tissue largely determines overall breast size, being that this tissue is not dense. Women with larger breasts are less likely to have dense breasts. However, there is no strict rule for breast density – women of any age with breasts of any size can have dense breasts.

If your doctor has determined that you have dense breasts, be mindful, and conduct monthly breast self-exams. 

Breast Density Causes Issues When Detecting Tumors

Although the ACOG dismisses methods for assessing breast density and denies it’s the relationship to breast cancer, they suggest that breast density is a common finding on a mammogram. Though, it may make it more difficult for a radiologist to see any signs of breast cancer.

Per breastcancer.org, research implies that dense breast makes it much more difficult to detect cancerous tumors. However, unlike the ACOG, they claim that dense breasts can be twice as likely to develop cancer as “nondense” breasts.

Have a Word with Your Doctor

Breastcancer.org suggests, if you are over 40 or at a high risk of breast cancer, you should set-up an annual mammogram and physical exam by a doctor. The earlier you can find breast cancer and diagnose it, the better your chances of beating it. If your doctor has determined that if you have dense breasts, be mindful, and conduct monthly breast self-exams.

How to Conduct a Breast Self-Exam

If your mammogram report says you have dense breasts, your OB-GYN or other health care professional may discuss other screening tests in addition to mammography. Whether density is a link to cancer or not, it is important to practice preventative health habits.

So… Is There a Link Between Breast Density and Breast Cancer?

Amid varied opinions, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that there is no reliable method for assessing breast density. They suggest that there are no guidelines that recommend additional screening based on high breast density—therefore concluding that breast density is not a significant cancer risk factor.

Be proactive and come in for your annual wellness exam, book an appointment today.

*This blog is for general informational purposes only. Christopher K. Quinsey MD, P.A., does not distribute medical advice through this blog. As such, this blog does not constitute a patient-client relationship between the reader and Christopher K. Quinsey, MD, P.A.

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