What does it mean to have dense breasts?
Breast density is determined at your annual mammogram. Dense breasts contain higher amounts of fibrous connective tissue than fat tissue, making it more difficult to see tumors on a mammogram. High breast density is common; roughly 50% of women over the age of 40 have it.
There are four categories used to determine breast density:
- Fatty - less than 25% density
- Scattered - 25-50% density
- Heterogeneous - 51-75% density
- Extremely dense - more than 75% density
About one in ten women have either fatty breasts or extremely dense breasts. Most women have either scattered or heterogenous breasts.
UR Medicine's Treatments for Dense Breasts
Having dense breasts can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. Regular mammograms along with additional diagnostic technology is key to early detection.
How Are We Advancing Technology for Dense Breasts?
The SoftVue™ screening tool was designed to be a more comfortable experience for patients. Patients lie chest-down on a table and each breast is immersed in a warm water bath as it’s being scanned. A small imaging ring encircles the breast and collects images. It only takes about three minutes per breast.
SoftVue™ has proven to detect 20% more cancers when combined with standard mammography for women with dense breasts.
In addition, rather than providing just one type of image to review for possible cancers, SoftVue produces four different image sets of each breast that radiologists can use to determine if cancer is present. That is four times the imaging power, giving radiologists more diagnostic confidence compared to just reviewing mammograms alone. SoftVue does not replace your screening mammogram.
Contrast Enhanced Mammography
Contrast-enhanced mammography uses iodinated intravenous (IV) contrast along with a standard mammogram for imagery. The process is similar to a standard mammogram, with the addition of an injection of the contrast. CEM is more effective for cancer detection than a standard mammogram for women with dense breasts.
Tomosynthesis mammography, also known as 3D mammography, is a new method of screening for breast cancer. The test involves taking several X-rays of each breast from various angles to create a detailed 3D image.
Tomosynthesis finds invasive cancers at a 40% higher rate than regular mammograms. It can also pinpoint hard to find cancers that may otherwise be unnoticed, particularly in areas of dense tissue.
What Sets Us Apart?
UR Medicine Breast Imaging provides the things women want most in a breast imaging center. Our department includes some of the nation's top breast care experts. We offer the most advanced imaging technology in a calming, comfortable environment.
As part of an academic medical center, our providers are continuously working to advance the detection and assessment of breast disease. For example, we offer the only Cone-Beam Breast CT imaging technique in the Northeast. The technology was developed by UR Medicine's Director of Breast Imaging, Avice O'Connell, M.D., F.A.C.R.
The UR Medicine Breast Imaging Center is designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology's (ACR) Commission on Quality and Safety and the Commission on Breast Imaging for a three-year term. The ACR Breast Imaging Center of Excellence designation signifies that UR Medicine Breast Imaging provides these services to the Rochester and surrounding communities at the highest standards of the radiology profession.
We collaborate with the breast specialists at UR Medicine's Wilmot Cancer Institute to ensure that all necessary treatments and support is available. And with so many convenient locations in Rochester and surrounding communities, it's easier than ever to get your mammogram.
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Patient Education & Support
The Breast Health program at Wilmot Cancer Institute offers evaluation for any of the following concerns: family history of breast cancer, concerns with new imaging findings, newly discovered lumps, dense breasts, exposure to chest radiation, or any other worry.