Are Dense Breasts a Risk Factor for Breast Cancer?

Are Dense Breasts a Risk Factor for Breast Cancer?

All breasts are different…that’s what we’ve always been told, but do you know just how different they can be and what that means for your breast cancer risk?

The one thing we all have in common is that breasts are made up of the same materials; glandular, connective, and fatty tissues. However, everyone’s breast density is different. Breast density refers to the amount of fibrous, connective and glandular tissues that make up the breasts and there are four levels to measure density. 

(About 50% of women are considered to have dense breasts).

The four categories of density measurement:

  1. BI-RADS A: The breast is mostly fatty tissue. About 10% of women are in this category.
  2. BI-RADS B: The breast has a few areas of dense fibrous and glandular tissues. About 40% of women are in this category.
  3. BI-RADS C: The breast is an almost equal mix of fatty and dense tissue. About 40% of women are in this category.
  4. BI-RADS D: The breast is almost entirely dense tissue. About 10% of women are in this category.

Are dense breasts a risk factor for breast cancer?
Yes, having dense breasts increases your risk of breast cancer, but it doesn’t mean you will get breast cancer and it does not mean you are more likely to die from breast cancer. However, dense tissue can hide tumors on mammograms, which can lead to later diagnoses, and women with dense breasts are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer within 12 months of an apparently healthy looking mammogram. While there are other diagnostic options, such as MRI, and ultrasound, these can often lead to misdiagnosis and unnecessary surgeries. This is why self-screening is so important. Knowing your breasts and what looks and feels normal can save your life.

How to perform a self-exam:

breast-self-exam infographic

While breast density is mostly out of our control, there are plenty of things we can do to reduce our risk of cancer, which include eating a healthy and balanced diet, limiting our alcohol intake, not smoking, and keeping an active lifestyle!

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Contact us for a consultation and to discuss your integrative treatment options.

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