Breast Density

In February 2014, New Jersey implemented the S-792 law requiring mammography providers to notify patients who were categorized as having dense breast tissue. The legislation also requires insurers to cover breast follow-up evaluations, such as ultrasounds in women with dense breast tissue. The law was designed to improve early breast cancer detection as well as educate patients about dense breast tissue to make them aware of how having dense breast tissue might make it more difficult to detect abnormalities.

Breasts are made up of a mixture of fibrous and glandular tissue and fatty tissue. Your breasts are considered dense if you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue but not much fat. Density may decrease with age, but there is little, if any, change in most women. Breast density can make it difficult to detect cancer during routine mammograms.

The radiologist who reads your mammogram will determine your breast density in one of the four categories:

  • Predominately fatty
  • Scattered fibroglandular
  • Heterogenously dense
  • Extremely dense

Depending on where you fall on the density scale, your physician will be able to tell you if you have dense breasts. If you have dense breasts, please talk to your doctor. Together, you can decide if you require additional breast screening exams.

If your breasts are not dense, other factors may still place you at increased risk for breast cancer — including a family history of the disease, previous chest radiation treatment for cancer and previous breast biopsies indicating you are high risk. Please talk to your doctor and discuss your history.

Even if you are at low risk, and have entirely fatty breasts, The Breast Center recommends an annual mammogram beginning at age 40.

To learn more about breast density and other screening modalities, please contact our Nurse Navigator at 973.322.7804.

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