About Breast Density

Care & Mammography

Breast Density – What does it mean for you?

What is breast density?
Breasts are made of fibrous, glandular and fatty tissue. Breasts with little fat tissue, and more fibrous and glandular tissue are considered to be dense. For most women, breasts become less dense with age. Dense breast tissue is common and found in approximately 50% of women.

Why is breast density important?
Women who have dense breasts have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer than women with less dense breasts. Dense breast tissue makes it more difficult for radiologists to detect cancer, because both dense breast tissue and masses or tumors look white in mammograms.

How do I know if I have dense breasts?
Breast density can only be seen on mammograms, and cannot be determined by how your breasts feel. The radiologist will determine your breast density while reading your mammogram. Results will be included on the mammography report sent to you and your physician. A 4-level scale (pictured to the right) is used to categorize density.

What should I do if I have dense breasts?
Women with dense breasts should still get an annual mammogram as they are the only medical imaging test proven to reduce breast cancer deaths. Together with your doctor, you can decide if additional screening is right for you and your specific breast cancer risk factors.
Our Breast Team offers:

  • Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography): digital mammogram that creates multiple images through the breast tissue, allowing the radiologist to better see any breast abnormalities.
  • Breast Ultrasound and/or MRI: can be used along with a mammogram to improve breast cancer detection in women with dense breasts.


Breast is almost all fatty tissue.
More glandular and fibrous tissue present. This can make it hard to see small masses.
Some glandular and fibrous tissue present.
Breast is almost all glandular and fibrous. A small mass could be missed here.

Shared with permission by Kent County Medical Society KCMS/KCOA Winter 2015 Bulletin Issue

Other Resources

  • Kent County Medical Society – Breast Density Article
  • American College of Radiology Breast Density Brochure
  • MI Breast Density Patient Notification Act
  • American Cancer Society: Breast Density & Your Mammogram Report
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