Breast density refers to the variation in dense tissue on a mammogram image. Fatty breast tissue appears more translucent than dense breast tissue. Regions of a breast that comprise fatty tissue will appear darker on a mammogram, while regions that comprise dense tissue appear whiter.
According to researchers, denser breasts make it harder to detect cancer in a mammogram because non-cancerous fatty cells could show up as white on a mammogram, the same as cancerous fatty cells.
A study by Mayo Clinic notes that many women aren’t even aware of breast density, and the number of those unaware is larger among minority women and those at lower-income levels.
So, what does this mean for Black women?
- Awareness and Education: Black women need to know about breast density and should ask their doctors about their breast density.
- Alternative Screening Options: If they are noted to have dense breasts, they should ask their doctors about alternative screening options that will help better detect the true cause of the white on the mammogram. Mayo Clinic has identified a cost-effective test that can be coupled with the mammogram to help determine if the tissue is cancerous or non-cancerous. Women should research alternative screening options and ask their doctors about the value these options offer in their specific health situation.
- Lifestyle Changes: There is additional research that suggests making changes to your lifestyle can help reduce a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer. Women should talk with their doctor about such benefits as well.
For more information on breast cancer awareness, visit National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
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