This patient-friendly guide below outlines the benefits and harms of screening options for dense breasts. The two-page guide is based on current scientific and medical research on technology and dense breast tissue. The guide illustrates the approximate cancer detection rate for each exam. Bring this guide with you as you discuss your screening options with your health-care providers based on your risk, dense tissue and preferences.
Keep in mind that all studies have limitations. References are listed on page 2.
The chart can be printed one page, back to back.
Appreciation and thanks to Julie S. Gershon, MD for her expert review.
Download Chart in PDF here.
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Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer.
Two-thirds of pre-menopausal women and 1/4 of post menopausal women have dense breast tissue.
Adding more sensitive tests to mammography significantly increase detection of invasive cancers that are small and node negative.
American College of Radiology describes women with "Dense Breast Tissue" as having a higher than average risk of Breast Cancer.
While a mammogram detects 98% of cancers in women with fatty breasts, it finds only 48% in women with the densest breasts.
A woman at average risk and a woman at high risk have an EQUAL chance of having their cancer masked by mammogram.
Women with dense breasts who had breast cancer have a four times higher risk of recurrence than women with less-dense breasts.
A substantial proportion of Breast Cancer can be attributed to high breast density alone.
Cancer turns up five times more often in women with extremely dense breasts than those with the most fatty tissue.
There are too many women who are unaware of their breast density, believe their “Happy Gram” when it reports no significant findings and are at risk of receiving a later stage cancer diagnosis.