Written by: Barbara Good, PhD
A new risk factor is gaining acceptance as perhaps the most important one for breast cancer: breast density. For many years clinicians have known that breast density is often an inherited condition, but they believed that its significance for breast cancer was only that the densities could hide a tumor in a mammogram. Now, there are scientists who believe that dense breasts raise a woman’s risk of cancer up to sixfold, and more are agreeing that density should be considered a formal key risk factor. Density is currently being incorporated into risk models for the disease.
What this means for women who are told they have “dense breasts” is that multiple mammographic views may be required during mammography examinations, or alternate imaging techniques may be needed to accurately assess the breast tissue. It is important to remember that “density” is not a well defined term and that mammographic densities can vary depending on where a woman has a mammogram performed