What Exactly is Breast Density?

Breasts are made up of lobules, ducts, fatty and fibrous connective tissue. Lobules are often referred to as glandular tissue. If you have dense breast tissue, you have more fibrous and/or glandular tissue and less fat in the breasts. Dense breast tissue may increase your breast cancer risk, but it’s not abnormal. In fact, it’s very common. Approximately 50% of women undergoing mammography are classified either as having heterogeneously dense or extremely dense breasts. The breast size or firmness is not an indicator for breast density and only a mammogram can see your breast density.

When you have dense breast tissue, mammography’s sensitivity is reduced. Dense breast tissue can obscure or mask a possible cancer. It’s unclear at this time why dense breast tissue is linked to breast cancer risk, but we do know of many risk factors that are preventable. Be sure to discuss your breast cancer risk, including your full medical history, with your clinician.

Want to know your breast cancer risk?

Assess your risk with a quiz by the National Cancer Institute. Click here.

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