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Breast Tissue Density and Cancer: January 5, 2019

Your breast density can determine your risk for breast cancer.  “We knew that density was a risk factor, we knew that density could be measured on a mammogram, but we weren’t telling the patients and giving them the options for additional screening,” explained Dr. David Rock, a breast surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Health. 

But new legislation is changing that in the state of Florida. “Thirty-three states have now passed laws requiring the radiologist to inform patients of what their breast density is,” said Dr. Rock.

Patients with dense breast tissue are four to six times more likely to develop breast cancer. Breast density also decreases the sensitivity for mammograms.  “The reason it’s important to inform the patient is so they can decide whether or not they want to do some additional screening using a different modality or an MRI,” he explained.

After a mammogram, patients are notified of their results and their breast density.  “It’s reported A, B, C, D by the radiologist to the practitioner. A, being a fattier breast with very little density and D, is a very dense or extremely dense breast. Anything that is C and D in Florida gets reported as dense to the patient,” said Dr. Rock.

Informing patients and giving them the option to talk to their doctor about having additional screening.

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