I have been told that I have dense breasts on my mammograms. What does that mean?

Dense breasts mean that x-rays don’t go through the tissue easily because the tissue is dense to the x-rays.  This happens when there is not much fat in the breasts.  X-rays pass through fat very easily and cause the fat to be black on the mammogram.  Because the glandular and fibrous tissue let less of the x-rays pass through the breast, this tissue looks white on the mammograms. This makes the sensitivity of the mammogram much less than when the tissue is fatty. Cancer doesn’t make fat.  Consequently, it also appears white and may easily be lost in the white breast tissue when it is small.  Trying to find cancer in dense breasts is equivalent to looking for a polar bear in a snowstorm, because you are looking for a white object in a...

What are “dense breast laws?”

Women in many states have complained to their legislators that they developed malignant lumps in their breasts that either they or their health care provider found shortly after a mammogram and after receiving a letter from their radiologist assuring them that their mammogram was normal.  No mention was made that because they had dense breasts they could not be given complete assurance that their breasts were cancer free. In response to this problem, the legislatures in five states, including the three largest states, California, Texas and New York, have passed laws that the radiologist must inform women who have dense breasts and a normal mammogram that there are other tests such as ultrasound and MRI that can find cancers that are missed by the mammogram in...

2013 NATIONAL WOMEN SURVIVORS CONVENTION

Last month I was privileged to attend the first meeting of the National Women Survivors Convention along with 1000 attendees.  These women are an extremely enthusiastic crowd who have been in the struggle of their lives for anywhere from a few months to many years. This convention was developed and organized by two extremely powerful women, Karen Shayne and Judy Pearson and many of their friends, colleagues and associates for a first time event.  The conference was held in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. These women are the vanguard of the thousands of women that will be attending this conference in the future. 80% of the women who attended had previously had breast cancer.  Many speakers including Dr. Susan Love gave talks...