I’ve been told that I have dense breast tissue – what does that mean?

Breasts are made out of fat and breast tissue. Some women have more fat than breast tissue while others have more breast tissue than fat. When there is more breast tissue, the mammogram looks white and is considered dense. Since masses or lumps also appear white on a mammogram, a lump may be masked by the dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue is also linked with an increase in the risk of developing breast cancer.

That being said, having dense breast tissue is NOT an abnormal condition. It is a part of you, like having green eyes or red hair and not something that you can readily change. Dense breast tissue is common, 40% of women have dense breast tissue. Since mammography has limited visibility in women with dense breast tissue, screening dense breasts with ultrasound, in addition to mammography, may improve the likelihood of detecting cancer.

You should discuss your personal risk factors including breast density with your physician.


What is Automated Breast Ultrasound?

With 3D ultrasound volumes and ABUS software, radiologists can look through hundreds of breast tissue image “slices,” looking at layers of dense tissue to find breast cancers which may have been missed on a mammogram. This is different than routine ultrasound of the breasts since the images from ABUS allow you to see in projections that routine ultrasound cannot, which results in the ability of physicians to detect more breast cancers and less false negatives (findings due to images which are not cancer).


Other Facts about ABUS:

  • FDA-approved technology
  • Insurance does cover, however it is not covered under preventative care at this time. This exam may go towards patient deductible
  • ABUS does not replace a mammogram
  • ABUS is recommended on patients with strong family history or whose mammogram reported “extremely dense”, “heterogeneously dense”, and “moderately dense”