Having dense breasts is a big problem.
If you have dense breasts, meaning they have more fibrous and glandular tissue and less fatty tissue, you won’t know that until you start having mammograms. Most states are required by law to tell you if you have them, but you can also just ask during your appointment. It’s important knowledge to have because women with dense breasts have a slightly higher risk of developing cancer (about 1.2 times more than other women), and the disease is harder to spot in dense breast tissue, explains Elizabeth Morris, M.D., a Breast Cancer Research Foundation investigator and the chief of the Breast Imaging Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. That’s why some women get a second screening, like a breast ultrasound or an MRI. “But not all women with dense breasts need additional tests—only those with extremely dense breasts or certain patterns of density,” Dr. Morris says. Bottom line: It’s an individual decision your doctor will help you make.