Study Suggests Dense Breast Tissue Isn’t Always a High Cancer Risk

“A new study offers help to patients and doctors who are trying to deal with mammogram results that many women consider troubling and confusing: the finding of ‘dense’ breast tissue.

“Not only is breast density linked to an increased risk of cancer, it also makes cancer harder to detect because dense tissue can hide tumors from X-rays. But the new research indicates that not all women with dense breasts are at very high risk.

“Patient advocates urge women with dense breasts to ask doctors about extra tests like ultrasound or an M.R.I. to check for tumors that mammography might have missed. Studies have found that those exams can improve detection of tumors over mammography alone in dense breasts.

“Pressed by advocacy groups, 22 states have passed laws requiring that breast density be reported to mammography patients, and similar federal legislation has been introduced in the House and the Senate.”