The Easiest Way to Discover if You Have Dense Breasts

 In Density 101

Tell me the secret to knowing if I have dense breasts!

We have to admit…  this title may be a bit deceiving.  Density actually isn’t something that you can feel or see. Hmph. “Then how am I supposed to figure this density thing out?!” you may ask. Basically, the easiest way to know if you have dense breasts, is to ask during your annual screening. This one simple question could save your life.

Can’t I just squeeze my boobies and feel if they’re dense or not?

 It’s a common misconception to think that you can squeeze around and immediately tell if you have dense breasts or not. Density isn’t based on size or firmness. Breasts are made of three types of tissue- fatty, fibrous and glandular. Because all breasts are different, each woman has a different and unique amount of each tissue. A woman with dense breasts has less fatty tissue and more glandular and fibrous tissue. This can only be seen from screening methods such as a mammogram, ultrasound or MRI.

What will my GP know that I don’t?

Breast density may be included in the report from the radiologist following a mammogram so you can definitely ask your doctor about your breast density. Currently, it’s not mandated for GPs to discuss a patient’s density after their screening. However, this important question and conversation could be life-saving!

Why is density so important to know anyways?

 So why have you spent time reading this article about knowing how dense your set of boobies is?! Well, there are two main reasons. There’s an association between dense breast tissue and a slightly higher risk of having breast cancer. Women with dense breasts (on mammogram) have a four to five times increased risk of breast cancer compared with women with low breast density. Secondly, there is an increased risk of breast cancer not being detected by a standard mammogram in women with dense breasts. This is because dense breast tissue shows up white, the same colour as cancer. Other factors that may increase the likelihood of having dense breasts include being pre-menopausal, use of certain drugs such as menopausal hormone therapy, being pregnant or lactating and as a result of genetics.

SO… I ask my GP about my density, and then what?  

If your GP tells you that you have dense breasts, there’s a few options for your next plan of action. We suggest talking to your doctor about your mammography report and your risk factors. For example, if you found out you have dense breasts as well as a family history of breast cancer, your doctor might suggest you get an MRI or ultrasound. Yet another woman with dense breast tissue and no other risk factors might just request a 3D mammogram on her next screening. Be aware of alternate screening options (3D mammogram, MRI, ultrasound) and do your research to find the best option for you and your risk factors!

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