Dense breasts are very common—about 50 percent of women have them. There is no cause for alarm if you are one of these women. However, the density makes mammograms more difficult to read and can hide abnormalities and make it harder to detect problem areas or cancer.
After your annual mammogram, you may receive a letter from your physician letting you know your breast tissue is dense. The notification of breast density is a law. In Texas, it's referred to as Henda's Law, and 20 other states have some form of the mandate.
Notification of dense breast tissue is provided in order to raise awareness and promote discussion with your physician. Mammography is the most accurate method for early detection, but not all cancers are found through this method. They can determine whether or not you have additional risk factors and help you and your doctor decide if supplemental screening would be beneficial.
Current guidelines recommend screening mammograms and physical breast examinations every year beginning at age 40. Along with scheduling a regular mammogram, please remember the importance of monthly breast self-examination. Most important, if you have any concerns, inform your physician immediately. Early detection is the best protection against breast cancer.