Know your numbers: are you dense?

Mammogram with numbers
Mammogram results with numbers for breast density categories.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) Women know their shoe size, bra size, and important phone numbers, but most women don’t know their breast density number. Knowing if you’re a 1, 2, 3, or 4 can help save your life.

A woman’s risk of breast cancer is based on several factors: family history, age, genetic makeup, and breast density. Some estimate breast density affects up to 50% of women.

What is Breast Density?

Women have fatty breasts, dense breasts, or fall somewhere in between. The problem is, dense breast tissue appears white on a mammogram and cancer also appears white. If you’re dense, the cancer can be hidden.

Categories of Breast Density

  • Almost entire fatty – 0-25% volume of density (1)
  • Scattered areas of fibroglandular density – 25-50% density (2)
  • Heterogeneously dense – 50-75% density (3)
  • Extremely dense – 75-100% density (4)

Under the new breast density notification law, women in the heterogeneously dense (3) and extremely dense (4) categories must be told they’re dense. A hospital or doctor’s office will likely send you a letter with certain wording that is required by law.

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It’s important that you talk with your doctor and know your number to help you decide what to do from there.

It’s also important to understand your breast density levels can change over time. That’s why it’s important to continue to get yearly mammograms.

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