Breast tumors and dense breast tissue

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Breasts contain glandular, connective, and fat tissue. Breast density is a term that describes the relative amount of these different types of breast tissue as seen on a mammogram. Dense breasts have relatively high amounts of glandular tissue and fibrous connective tissue and relatively low amounts of fatty breast tissue.

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Women whose breasts appear dense on mammograms have a higher risk for some aggressive breast cancers. One of the strongest known risk factors for breast cancer is high breast density — that is, relatively little fat in the breast and more connective and glandular tissue, as seen on a mammogram. Now, a study has found that higher breast density in postmenopausal women increases the risk of specific types of breast cancer, including some that have a relatively poorer prognosis.

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The study supports automated measurements as a future standard to ensure objective breast density classification for breast cancer screening, the researchers said. Previous studies have shown that women with mammographically dense breasts face a higher risk of breast cancer and missed cancers than those with non-dense breasts, partly because the superimposition of dense breast tissue on mammograms leads to a masking effect, causing some cancers to go undetected. This approach introduces potential mammogram reader variability into density categorization, said the study's principal investigator, Solveig Hofvind, Ph.

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Dense breast tissue is detected on a mammogram. Additional imaging tests are sometimes recommended for women with dense breasts. If a recent mammogram showed you have dense breast tissue, you may wonder what this means for your breast cancer risk.

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Breasts are made up of several different components that include fat, glandular tissue the milk ducts and lobules and connective tissue, which helps hold everything in place. High breast density means there is a greater amount of glandular and connective tissue compared to fat. Low breast density means there is a greater amount of fat compared to glandular and connective tissue.

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Up to half of U. This common inherited trait is associated with elevated risk for breast cancer, and it also can limit the effectiveness of breast cancer screening. Fatty tissue appears almost black on mammograms.

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Dense breasts have less fatty tissue and more non-fatty tissue compared to breasts that aren't dense. Dense breasts have more gland tissue that makes and drains milk and supportive tissue also called stroma that surrounds the gland. Breast density can be inherited, so if your mother has dense breasts, it's likely you will, too. Still, no one method of measuring breast density has been agreed upon by doctors.

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Skip Navigation. The only way to know your breast density is by the results of your mammogram. This classification system allows radiologists to measure and describe breast density.

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Mammographic density has been shown to be a strong independent predictor of breast cancer and a causative factor in reducing the sensitivity of mammography. There remain questions as to the use of mammographic density information in the context of screening and risk management, and of the association with cancer in populations known to be at increased risk of breast cancer. We assessed the association of each measure with breast cancer risk in these populations at enhanced risk, using logistic regression adjusted for age and total breast volume as a surrogate for body mass index BMI.

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