Reader Question: I have dense breasts. Does this mean I have a higher risk of breast cancer?
On Call Response: Unfortunately, yes. Research published in The New England Journal of Medicine confirms that having dense breasts does increase your risk. Breast tissue is made up of fat cells and ductal tissue (lobes and ducts of the milk glands); dense breasts are made up mostly of ductal tissue, which is more likely than fat cells to become cancerous. Having dense breasts also makes mammograms harder to read. Younger women (premenopausal) are more prone to having dense breasts, as are those with fibrocystic breast disease and women taking hormone replacement therapy. You can also inherit dense breasts. If your doctor has told you that you have dense breasts and you're over 40, you should consider getting a breast ultrasound in addition to your yearly mammogram.
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