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Breast Density

Imaging for Dense Breast Tissue in Washington DC

Breast tissue is comprised of both fatty and fibroglandular tissue. Breasts are considered “dense” when more than 50% is made up of fibroglandular tissue.

Who has dense breast tissue?

Anyone can have dense breasts, but it is more common in younger women. Dense breast tissue cannot be seen or felt, and women with all different body types can have dense breast tissue.

How does breast density affect my cancer risk?

Breast density is an independent risk factor for developing breast cancer; women with dense breasts are at a 2-4 times higher risk of developing breast cancer than women without dense breasts. Mammography may not be as effective in women with dense breasts, as suspicious areas may not be seen due to the dense tissue.

What can you do if you have dense breast tissue?

Screening Breast Ultrasound (US)

  • Finds up to 24% more cancers in dense breast tissue
  • No radiation
  • Scans are quick (15 minutes) and well-tolerated
  • Most common imaging approach to detect cancer not seen on a mammogram for women with dense breasts

FOR APPOINTMENTS (202) 741-2244

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

  • Highly sensitive exam
  • No radiation
  • No injection
  • Not all women may be eligible to undergo the MRI exam

FOR APPOINTMENTS (202) 741-3036

Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI)/Breast-Specific Gamma Imaging (BSGI)

  • Metabolic approaches to breast imaging
  • A small dose of radioactive radiotracer is injected to detect abnormalities
  • Can be performed on nearly all women

FOR APPOINTMENTS (202) 741-3035

Patient Stories

  • Breast Cancer Survivor

    Cara Scharf majored in English in college, so she's always been good with words. But right after graduation, she discovered she would have to deal with four letters: BRCA. Cara was just 22 when she tested found out she was BRCA 1+ positive. It wasn't a complete surprise—her mother died of breast cancer when Cara was three, and her grandmother died of ovarian cancer. But Cara says she had never really thought about getting cancer ...