Breast cancer is emerging as one of the greatest causes for concern, thanks to lifestyle factors and diet that make women prone to the condition. Though cancer of the breast can happen in men as well as women, it is more common among women and many factors are responsible for the condition apart from what is mentioned above.
Having dense breasts is one of the factors that can contribute to the development of breast cancer and in some cases it can tamper with the detection of breast cancer. One in four women is known to have dense breast tissue.
What Are Dense Breasts?
Unfortunately, dense breasts are not a condition as such but a peculiar texture of the breast tissue. Any woman can have dense breasts and there is nothing much that can be done about it.
Dense breast tissue will have more connective tissue and glandular formations due to which reasons it is difficult to identify tumours that can be lodged inside these dense tissues. Even a mammogram can fail to detect malignant tumors in dense breasts as the tissues appear as white structures in the breast which is similar to tumour formations.
Again, having dense breast tissue is not a medical condition. One cannot detect the density of the breasts through self examination as well. A mammogram, or an X ray or MRI scan would determine the density of the breast. Dense breasts appear in lighter shades in imaging scans.
As tumours too appear light in imagine scans, detecting tumours in the early stages in dense breasts becomes a challenge. It is therefore important to undergo regular mammograms and self examination to feel any lump formations that could be suspicious when you have dense breasts.
For diagnosis of lumps in dense breasts, it is recommended that women go for digital mammograms rather than undergoing film mammograms. This will make the interpretation of the outcome easier. Film mammograms make it difficult to identify tumours form the dense tissue and hence pose the risk of tumours getting missed.
Most people who are in the category of high risk for developing breast cancer is not checked for breast density. Studies conducted by the National Cancer Institute suggest that breast density is an important criterion to decide whether the woman is at higher risk of getting breast cancer.
Dense breast tissue will have fewer amounts of fat content and higher amounts of milk glands and ducts which will give it a lumpy feel. Lump formations within these tissues can go unnoticed when you do a breast self examination.
In such cases, it is important to do self examination every day so that you are familiar with the dense breast tissue and can easily identify any new lump formations that could be unnatural and different from what is already there.
Though many factors can put a woman in the high risk category, researchers have also found that only 5 to 10 percent of women who are actually genetically prone to breast cancer get the disease which is a huge encouragement to take extra precautions and stay free from the disease.