Did you know women with dense breasts are three to five times more likely to develop breast cancer than women with low breast density? About 45% of women age 40 to 74 have dense breasts, which puts them at increased risk.
Women’s breasts are made up mostly of fat and breast tissue. High breast density means there is a greater amount of breast tissue than fat. Dense breasts also make it more difficult for radiologists to detect cancer using conventional mammograms. On the digital image, dense breast tissue and tumors both appear white. Fatty tissue, on the other hand, looks almost black, making it much easier to spot breast masses.
The good news is that new 3-D mammography now being used at the Beaufort Memorial’s Women’s Imaging Center is making it easier for radiologists to detect cancers in these patients. Because almost all women can benefit from 3-D mammography, we’re using it for the majority of our routine screenings as well.
Dr. Perry Burrus is a general surgeon with Beaufort Memorial Surgical Specialists and BMH’s High-Risk Breast Program leader.
If the mammogram reveals a patient has dense breasts, we let the patient and her physician know so they can determine if closer monitoring is needed, as women with dense breasts should be monitored more closely.
This new technology means less worry for our patients.
“Our 3-D mammograms provide a clearer view of the breast,” says Dr. Perry Burrus, who specializes in the surgical management of breast disease here at BMH. “This improves breast cancer detection by 40% and reduces the number of false positives that lead to unnecessary biopsies.”
If you have breast cancer risk factors, such as dense breasts or a family history of the disease, we encourage you to join Beaufort Memorial’s High-Risk Breast Cancer Clinic.