Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Breast density can determine one's risk for breast cancer


Sat, Oct 21st 2017 07:35 pm
By Renae Kimble
A major risk factor for breast cancer, which is relatively unknown to women, is dense breasts. Knowing one's breast density is another part of the ongoing fight that assists in the early detection and prevention of breast cancer. Only one in eight women are aware that their breast density is a risk factor for breast cancer. One in five women are aware that dense breast tissue makes it harder to find cancer on a mammogram or show any changes in the breast.
When cancer is discovered at an earlier stage, an individual has a greater variety of less-invasive treatment options to choose from. Women diagnosed with breast cancer during the disease's latter stages, are more likely to die. In the case of women who failed to obtain an early cancer screening, a much more invasive and expensive cancer treatment will be required to arrest, cure, stop or slow down the spreading of this horrific disease.
It is imperative that the word gets out to women that dense breasts can mask tumors. When tumors are masked, it makes it much more difficult to make an accurate diagnosis of breast cancer. This is why dense breasts are considered one of the leading risk factors for breast cancer in women.
Breast density is defined as the amount of dense tissue compared to the amount of fatty tissue in the breast on a mammogram. Dense breast tissue has more fibrous and glandular tissue than fat, according to the National Cancer Institute.
There are different levels of breast density ranging from little to no dense tissue to very dense tissue.
According to the American Cancer Society, the Mayo Clinic and other health care organizations, there are four breast density levels. The levels are as follows:
•Almost entirely fatty breasts are almost entirely composed of fat. One in 10 women are in this category.
•Scattered areas of fibro glandular density indicate there are some scattered areas of density, but the majority of the breast tissue is non-dense. Approximately four out of ten women are in this category.
•Heterogeneously dense breasts indicate there are some areas of non-dense tissue, but that the majority of the breast tissue is dense. Approximately four out of 10 women are included in this category.
•Extremely dense breasts indicate nearly all of the breast tissue is dense. One in 10 women have this result.
The state of New York is only one of 27 states that require women to be notified of their breast density after having a mammogram. Dense breast notification raises a woman's awareness that more screening tests may be needed in order to make a definitive determination that she does not, in fact, have breast cancer.
Health care professionals are not sure as to what causes dense breast tissue, but a woman is more than likely to have dense breasts if she is in her 40s and 50s, premenopausal or has had hormone therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms.
Mammogram screenings have been deemed to be the best preventative method in the early detection and discovery of malignant tumors in a woman's breast. Remember that it may be harder to find cancerous tumors or changes in one's breast on a mammogram if a woman has dense breast.
If you fall into the category of having dense breasts, please speak with your physician to determine whether further screening is needed.
The Cancer Services Program of Niagara County, an affiliate of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, funded by the New York State Department of Health, provides free breast and cervical cancer screening to uninsured women ages 40-64, and free colon cancer screening to uninsured men and women ages 50-64.
Call us at 716-278-4898.
Renae Kimble is program coordinator for the Cancer Services Program of Niagara County.

comments powered by Disqus

Hometown News