A new study reveals a common risk of breast cancer — here’s how you can take action now

A doctor at the Cleveland Clinic breaks it down.

When it comes to preventing cancer, early detection and regular check-ups are essential. It’s also important to educate yourself about risk factors and know what to look for.

according to New studyMany women are not aware of the fact that having large breasts increases their chances of developing breast cancer. In fact, it increases a person’s risk One to four times.

Over 2,300 women were surveyed and interviewed regarding their perception of breast density as a risk factor for breast cancer. They were also asked if having dense breasts put you at greater risk than having a close relative with breast cancer, and what could help reduce a person’s risk of developing breast cancer.

The results showed that women believe family History is the biggest risk factor, and few believe that breast density increases the risk of breast cancer.

Given this lack of awareness, the study authors note that “overall education About breast cancer risks and prevention strategies are needed. “

Why does having dense breasts increase the risk of breast cancer?

The breast consists of fibrous glandular tissue (milk ducts, lobules and connective tissue) and fat. Breast density is used to describe the amount of fibroglandular tissue in a patient’s breast. A breast is considered “dense” if there is more fibrous tissue than fat. Dr. Laura B. Shepardson, MD, MA, explains Chief of Breast Imaging at the Cleveland Clinic.

Approximately 50% of the population between the ages of 50 and 74 have dense breast tissue. And while it’s clear that patients with dense breast tissue have a 1 to 4 times greater risk of developing breast cancer than patients with less fibrous glandular tissue, it’s not clear why this is, Dr. Shepardson explains. One theory is that breast cancers develop in the cells of the fibroglandular tissue. Therefore, it stands to reason that the more fibrous tissue a patient has, the higher the number of cells that are at risk of turning into cancer.

Dr. Shepherdson adds that another reason as important as breast density is that breast cancer may not show up well on a mammogram if a woman has dense breast tissue. The fibroglandular tissue is white on a mammogram. Because cancers are also white, the dense white tissue can “hide” the breast cancer making it difficult for a radiologist — a doctor who interprets a mammogram — to see it.

Related: Here are the top 9 signs of breast cancer in women — and when to see a doctor

How to tell if you have dense breasts

Breast density depends on the mammographic appearance, not on the shape of the breast. When the radiologist reads the mammogram, he or she will determine the density of the breast.

Radiologists classify density using four categories based on the percentage of fibrous tissue (white on a mammogram) compared to fat (gray on a mammogram), explains Dr. Shepherdson. Fortunately, many states have now passed legislation that requires radiologists to notify patients if they have dense breast tissue.

Action steps for the examination

It’s never too early to start talking about breast health with your medical provider, Dr. Shepherdson says. He or she can review your risk factors for developing breast cancer and, with your input, adopt the breast cancer screening strategy that is best for you.

“I advise all patients to consider starting annual mammograms starting at age 40, as younger patients have denser breast tissue and early detection is key,” says Dr. Shepardson. “If a patient knows they have dense breasts, I also advise them to speak with their provider about other screening tests, including full breast ultrasound and/or MRI, that might be appropriate for them.”

Next: These are the different stages of breast cancer – and what each one means


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *