Learn More About Your Breast Density
WHAT IS DENSE BREAST TISSUE?
Breast tissue is made up of two types: fatty (non-dense) tissue and fibroglandular (dense) tissue.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE DENSE BREAST TISSUE?
Have a mammogram. The radiologist can determine your breast density by looking at these X-rays of the breasts. A grading scale is used to break density levels into four groups, ranging from "almost entirely fatty" to "extremely dense tissue present." Your doctor can explain your results to you.
WHAT IF I HAVE DENSE BREAST TISSUE?
Talk with your doctor about your risk factors for breast cancer, such as breast density, age, family history and your own health history. You and your doctor may decide that you would benefit from more screening tests. One option is 3D mammography, which has shown to be more effective in finding cancer in dense breasts.
WHY HAVEN'T I HEARD OF BREAST DENSITY BEFORE NOW?
A few years ago a state law went into effect requiring patients be notified of their breast density. This is intended to make women aware that if they have dense breasts, they may benefit from additional screening.
Frequently Asked Questions About 3D Mammography
WHAT IS A 3D MAMMOGRAPHY BREAST EXAM?
A 3D mammogram is a new screening and diagnostic tool to help with early breast cancer detection. It is done at the same time as a traditional 2D mammogram. During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over your breast, taking multiple images. Then, a computer makes a 3D image of your breast tissue in one millimeter slices. This allows the radiologist to better see breast detail. A 3D mammogram can be especially helpful for those with dense breasts.
WHY IS THERE A NEED FOR 3D MAMMOGRAPHY BREAST EXAMS? WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
With regular 2D mammography, the radiologist views your breast tissue in one flat image. Sometimes breast tissue can overlap, giving the illusion of normal breast tissue looking like an abnormal area. By also looking at the breast tissue in one millimeter slices, the radiologist can provide a more accurate exam. In this way, 3D mammography finds 25-40% more invasive cancer that may be missed with regular 2D mammography. It also means there is less chance you would be called back later for a "second look," because now the breast tissue is seen more clearly.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT DURING THE 3D MAMMOGRAPHY EXAM?
A 3D mammogram is done at the same time as your 2D mammogram. The 3D portion only takes a few more seconds. There is no additional compression of the breast.
IS THERE MORE RADIATION DOSE?
Very low X-ray energy is used during the exam. It is about the same amount as a regular mammogram done on film.
Methodist Center for Diagnostic Imaging centers are operated by Methodist GDI, a Texas non-profit corporation, and are staffed by independently practicing physicians who are contracted by Methodist GDI. The physicians and staff who provide services at the imaging centers are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System or any of its affiliated hospitals. © 2016, Center for Diagnostic Imaging 02162016