Breast Density And Mammograms: What You Should Know

Breast might look relatively the same on the surface, but under the surface, the makeup of breasts vary greatly from person to person. If you've had a mammogram in the past, one area of difference you may have discovered is density. However, you might not have the right idea about what density is, or no idea at all. Learn more about breast density and how it affects your mammograms. 

Breast Density

When some people hear about breast density, there is an assumption that the term is a reference to the firmness of the breast. However, this assessment isn't quite accurate. Breasts are made up of a combination of fat and tissues, more specifically connective tissues. The density of a breast is a reference to the amount of fat tissue in comparison to the size of the breast and the amount of connective tissue it has. 

When the area of the breast and the amount of connective tissue it has is greater in comparison to the amount of fat it has, the breast is considered high density. A breast with low density is one that has an increased level of fat in comparison to the connective tissue and size of the breast. 

Density and Mammograms

Density is critically important when it comes to a mammogram. It's important to understand that the density of your breast will have an impact on the clarity of the mammogram you are able to receive. For example, for women with higher density breast, which are those with less fat tissue, the makeup of their breast can create somewhat of a barrier in the imaging process since the tissues leave ample opportunity for cyst, tumors, and other growths to remain concealed behind the connective tissue during the mammogram. 

As a result, women with higher density breast might miss out on early detection. For this reason, women with higher density breasts are often advised to schedule 3D mammograms instead of traditional 2D exams. 3D mammography is more advanced in these scenarios because the technology is able to capture growths in the breast even when they are being obstructed by tissue. Additionally, the 3D technology allows for image capturing from multiple angles, which can further assist with achieving a more accurate assessment of any growths in the breast. 

A mammogram is an important health screening tool, but it's a process that is only effective when performed correctly. Make sure you understand your breast density and choose a mammogram option that will offer the best results.