Doctors say women need more education about this breast cancer risk

Breast cancer awareness is on the rise, but doctors say not enough women know what factors put them at risk. Breast density, experts say, is a highly common risk factor many women haven’t even heard of.

Having “dense breasts” means having more glandular and fibrous tissue than fatty tissue. Women with dense breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer due to higher estrogen production, genetics, and elevated growth factors, Reuters Health reports — and women at higher risks, including African-American and Ashkenazi Jewish women, especially need this information. What’s more, doctors have a harder time detecting cancer cells in dense breasts, which are less sensitive to mammograms.

“There’s a national movement to increase women’s awareness of breast density and help them make better healthcare decisions, said Dr. Jennifer Harvey.


Harvey led the study, asking more than 1,000 randomly selected women (who had recently received mammograms) questions about breast health. Of those asked, 30 percent said they had never heard of breast density.

Only 5 percent correctly answered three questions about breast density, the study claims.

“Although health practitioners may say women don’t need mammograms every year, we suggest that those with dense breasts really do,” Harvey told Reuters. “Density not only decreases our ability to see cancer, but also increases the risk of cancer, which makes this message even more important.”

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