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Identifying who is at high risk

Certain factors can increase your risk of developing breast cancer – including high mammographic breast density. If you are at increased risk, The University of Kansas Cancer Center may be able to help you with its dedicated Breast Cancer Prevention Center. We can talk with you about your risks and recommend screening, standard risk reduction options or breast cancer prevention clinical research trials that are specific to your level of risk.

Dense Breast Tissue

What you can do about it

Some confusing messages appear in the media about women with dense breast tissue and their likelihood of developing breast cancer. Reliable answers to common questions on the issue should clear confusion and motivate action.

What are dense breasts?

Breast tissue is composed of glandular and connective tissue, or a combination of milk ducts and supporting tissue, and fat. When the breasts have more glandular and connective tissue than fat, they are termed dense.

What is the relationship of dense breasts to breast cancer?

Patients with dense breasts have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. The denser the breasts are, the higher the risk. In very dense breasts, the risk can be four to six times that of fatty breasts.

How do I know if I have dense breasts?

Breast density is determined on the mammogram and can usually be found in the radiologist's interpretation of the mammogram. Your primary care physician, who gets this report, should have this information. If not, it can be obtained from the facility that performed your mammogram.

If I have dense breasts, what should I do?

Be informed. In addition to an increased risk of breast cancer, your mammogram is more likely to be less accurate in detecting cancer. You may want to consider another screening exam in addition to mammography, such as an ultrasound. We have seen an increased breast cancer detection rate by combining breast ultrasound with mammography in screening patients for cancer with dense breasts. The University of Kansas Health System is one of the only healthcare facilities in the region that offers dense breast screening.

If you think you have dense breast tissue and may benefit from a supplemental ultrasound screening, talk with your doctor. Ask if your mammogram indicated you have dense tissue. Your provider can fax an order to 913-588-7872 and call us at 913-588-6804 to schedule an appointment.