What is Breast Density and How Does it Affect a Mammography Reading?


In the United States alone, more than 50% of women aged 40 and older have dense breasts. Breast density is determined by the proportions of fatty tissue, glandular tissue, and fibrous connective tissue present in the breasts in comparison to the proportion of fat tissue. Glandular and fibrous connective tissues are more dense than fat tissue. The higher the amount of glandular and fibrous connective tissues, the more dense the breast is. Dense breast tissue cannot be felt or seen by means of a clinical or self breast exam. A screening mammogram is the only way to diagnose a woman with dense breasts.


What are the different categories of breast density?



Breast density is categorized into four different levels according to the degree of density. These levels are: A, B, C, and D.

A- Breasts are composed of almost entirely fatty tissues.
B- Breasts are composed of scattered areas of dense, glandular tissue and fibrous connective tissue.
C- Breasts are composed of heterogeneously dense breast tissue with many areas of glandular tissue and fibrous connective tissue.
D- Breasts are composed of extremely dense breast tissue.


How does breast density affect a mammography reading?

 Breast tissue that is dense appears white on a mammogram screening, which is the same color that indicates many breast abnormalities. This can make it more difficult for a radiologist to detect tumors and other malignancies, or it can increase the likelihood of false positives that can lead to the patient undergoing unnecessary additional testing.


How can women with dense breasts get the most accurate mammography reading?

Women with dense breasts should opt for a yearly 3D mammography screening. In comparison to a 2D mammography, a 3D mammography significantly reduces false positives for women with dense breasts. A routine screening breast ultrasound is also strongly recommended as a supplemental screening to a 3D mammogram to improve detection of breast cancer and other abnormalities. Little Silver Mammography & HerSpace offers the ultimate care for women with dense breasts by providing 3D mammography screenings and breast ultrasounds with same-day results.