Do you know if your breasts are dense?

I never knew I had dense breasts until after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then I have heard that most younger women have dense breasts. If I knew I had dense breasts would that mean I wouldn't have had cancer? Probably not, but I could have been more aware, to be faithful to religiously do monthly self exams, or maybe asking for a digital mammogram instead of ones using film, like I had been consistently receiving. Now that there is the 3-D mammography perhaps some of the tumors that are found in women with dense breasts, will be caught sooner. 

Searching for a clear explainaton as to why it's important to know if you have dense breasts, I found a great article with many helpful links. This passage was especially eye-opening:

"Women with dense breasts, however, are more likely to develop breast cancer and are more likely to have that cancer missed by a mammogram [though a digital mammogram is better than film].3,4 Tomosynthesis (3D mammography) adds detection of 1-2 cancers per 1000 women screened compared to standard 2D mammography, and this increase in cancer detection is observed across all breast densities.5,6 Ultrasound, when added to mammography in women with dense breasts, adds detection of 2-4 early stage invasive cancers per 1000 women screened.7-9 The only study to date comparing ultrasound with tomosynthesis showed nearly twice as many additional cancers were seen on ultrasound as on tomosynthesis after a negative standard mammogram.10 MRI shows even more cancers than the combination of mammography and ultrasound.8,11-13 All screening can result in false positives – abnormalities that are not cancer but that require follow-up or a needle biopsy. Women determined to be at “high risk” for breast cancer due to genetic/family history or other risk factors are recommended to have an MRI as part of their annual screening."

The author who wrote this article, Wendie A. Berg, MD, PhD, FACR,  is part of the organization DenseBreast-info.org which is a very comprehensive website edcuating women about breast density.  I urge to to take sometime to check out the Densebreast-info.org website there are even check lists to fill out and bring along to your next doctors visit.

Just like one of our forefathers Thomas Jefferson said, "Knowledge is Power".

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