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Do I have dense breasts?

Breast density is determined by the radiologist who reads your mammogram.

Breasts are made up of a mixture of fibrous and glandular tissue and fatty tissue. It does not matter what size or shape your breasts are. Your breasts are considered "dense" if you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue and not much fat.

There are four categories of breast density:

Image courtesy of American College of Radiology

Why does it matter?

Breast cancer is more common in women with dense breasts and can be more difficult to detect with mammography. The denseness of the fibrous and glandular tissue can mask abnormalities in a mammogram.

Do I still need a mammogram?

Yes. Mammography is still essential because it picks up calcifications in the ducts, which can be an early sign of cancer; ABUS screenings do not show calcifications. An ABUS screening is a secondary screening only for women whose breast density could be masking other abnormalities.

How do I find out if I have dense breasts?

The radiologist will indicate breast density in your mammography report and the letter you will receive in the mail. If you had your last mammogram at one of our NCH locations, you can call 847.618.3700 and ask us to check your report.

Otherwise, if you have ever been told your mammogram results were "inconclusive," then you may have dense breast tissue. You can schedule your next mammogram at the Breast Center at NCH where we can perform a supplemental ABUS screening, if indicated, during your mammogram appointment.

What happens during an ABUS screening?

The somo•v® Automated Breast Ultrasound system is the most advanced technology ever developed to screen women with dense breasts.

The process is simple: you will lie down on the exam table and a layer of lotion will be applied to your breasts. Then a sheer membrane covering the transducer is firmly positioned on your breast. The scanning process takes less than 60 seconds. ABUS screenings use sound waves (not radiation) to create state-of-the-art 3D ultrasound images of the breast tissue. After the screening, the radiologist can view the images along with your mammogram results to be sure every portion of the breast is thoroughly examined.

Is it painful?

You will feel some pressure as the transducer is positioned on your breast, but it is a pain-free process.

To learn more about ABUS screenings for dense breasts, call 847.618.7431 or ask your physician.

To schedule a mammogram and possible ABUS screening, call 847.618.3700.

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Last Updated 2013/09/12