Studies have shown that dense breasts are more prone to cancer. According to a study performed by some Norwegian researchers, women with dense breasts are more prone to developing breast cancer. This study involved over 100,000 women, while about 300,000 women were screened for the examination. Before going into the details, it’s important to know what it means to have a dense breast.
What Does It Mean To Have Dense Breasts?
Contrary to what a lot of people think, it’s impossible to determine if breasts are dense or not by the texture or the size. The density of breast can only be ascertained through a mammogram. A dense breast tissue only refers to the outlook of the tissue on a mammogram. It’s anatomically normal. The breast tissue is composed of different components, such as the milk ducts, milk glands, supportive tissues, fatty tissues and so on. When examined on a mammogram, women with this kind of breasts do present with denser than fatty tissues. For example, non dense breast tissue does appear dark and transparent, while on the other hand, dense breast tissues do appear like a solid white area on the mammogram.
What Leads To The Development Of Dense Breast Tissue?
The main cause of some women developing dense breast tissues while others don’t isn’t known yet. However, below are some of the factors that could lead to the development of this kind of breast.
- Age: It’s common in young people. However, some women do have dense breast tissues regardless of their age.
- Body mass index: Women with low body mass index are more prone to having dense breast tissues, as compared to obese women.
- Hormone therapy: It has also been noticed that menopausal women that take combination hormone therapy to reduce the signs and symptoms associated with menopause do have dense breast tissues.
What’s The Relationship Between Breast Density And Cancer?
The density of breast does matter due to two major reasons;
- Dense breasts are difficult to examine on the mammogram. This could make potential cancer go undetected due to the density of the breast.
- Increases the risk of having cancer, although doctors have been unable to find the reasons for this.
How do you Measure Breast Density?
Breast density can be measured using the Breast Imaging Reporting and Database Systems. In this system, breast density can be classified into 4 groups. They include the following;
- Mostly fatty: This refers to the kind of breasts that are mostly made up of fat, some little fibrous and glandular tissue. The implication of this is that the mammogram would show anything that could be abnormal vividly.
- Scattered Density: This kind of breasts do have a bit of fat, but they do have more fibrous and glandular tissues.
- Consistent Density: The breasts do have a lot of fibrous and glandular tissue that is well and evenly distributed through the breasts. This might make it difficult to see small masses in the breast during the examination.
- Extremely Dense: This kind of breast do have a large amount of fibrous and glandular tissues. It’s difficult to identify a cancer growth on a mammogram. This is because cancer can blend in with the normal breast tissue.
Steps To Take If You Have Dense Breast Tissues
If a mammogram has shown that you have dense breast tissues, then it’s important to do things that would reduce the risk of cancer development. Below are some of these things;
- Keeping a healthy weight: Keeping one’s weight between the normal body mass index is important. However, it’s more important to be fit and exercises
- Reduction in Alcohol Intake: The reduction in the intake of alcohol is a significant way of reducing the risks of developing cancer.
- Consumption of Healthy Food: Eating healthy food is crucial to living a healthy life.
- Non-exposure to Smoking: Cigarette smoke has a lot of carcinogens in it. This is why it’s important to not smoke, or expose one to smoking.
- Others: It’s also important to undergo regular screening when you have dense breast tissues.
What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the tissues of the breast. It is the second most common cancer in the United States. According to statistics, one in every eight women in America does develop breast cancer. However, this medical condition occurs in both men and women, although, it’s more predominant in women. Some of the signs and symptoms of this disease include the development of lump in the breast. Other changes that would occur in the breast include dimpling of the skin, red patches of the skin of the breast, secretion of fluid in the breast, even though the affected individual isn’t lactating. Also, this disease might spread to other parts of the body in severe cases, which might lead to pain in the bones, swollen lymph nodes, discoloration of the skin; mostly yellowing of the skin, and the swelling of the lymph nodes. Some of the factors that increase the risk of having this disease include gender, excess weight, lack of exercise, alcohol and so on. In addition, it has been discovered that about an average of breast cancer cases is due to genetics. This means that the genes can be inherited from one’s parents. This tumor cells mostly develop in the lining of the ducts and lobules that provide milk to them. Cancer that grows in the duct is referred to as ductal carcinoma. On the other hand, those that develop in the lobules are known as lobular carcinoma. The prognosis of cancer depends on a lot of factors. Some of this include the type of cancer, the extent of the disease, and the age of the person. Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer affecting women in the world. Some of the treatment procedures for Breast cancer include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery
When To See A Doctor?
It’s important to contact a doctor when you notice a lump or a change in the breast, regardless of a normal mammogram, individuals involved should contact a doctor for medical evaluation.
Twombly, R. (2007). Dense Breasts Linked to Higher Breast Cancer Risk, But Clinicians Unsure of Application. JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 99(22), pp.1661-1663.
Value of Additional Digital Breast Tomosynthesis for Preoperative Staging of Breast Cancer in Dense Breasts. (2017). Anticancer Research, 37(9).
Women with Dense Breasts Have Higher Breast Cancer Risk. (2007). The Nurse Practitioner, 32(3), pp.26,29.