There is no such thing as a routine breast cancer.

For women with dense breast tissue, breast density is especially important to identify because it has been linked to a small risk of developing breast cancer. The risk increases when a woman has other breast cancer risk factors along with dense breast tissue, so mammograms are paramount for prevention and detection.

And just as there is no routine breast cancer, there is no such thing as a routine mammogram. That’s why patients choose the world-recognized expertise of the OSUCCC – James breast cancer subspecialists.

At the OSUCCC – James, our breast cancer radiologists read mammograms (and only mammograms) every day, all day, making them super subspecialists whose refined and detailed expertise can help detect even the most minute change in breast tissue – catching cancer, if present, at the earliest possible point, when chances for treatment and cure are best.

Women who have dense breasts should follow up with their primary care physician to discuss their next steps based on their cancer risk. This could include additional screenings such as breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), whole-breast ultrasound, and tomosynthesis, which is a 3-D imaging mammogram that enables the OSUCCC – James radiology experts to examine layers of breast tissue and fat in 1-millimeter segments rather than a flat 2D image.

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, would like a second opinion, to speak with a breast cancer specialist or to schedule a mammogram, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

Breast Density

Breast density is linked to a small risk of developing breast cancer, but the risk increases when a woman has other breast cancer risk factors along with dense breasts.

Increased density can also mask certain abnormalities that might be found on mammogram images for women with more fatty tissue in their breasts, making it more difficult to detect cancer at an early stage and sometimes reducing the mammogram’s accuracy.

The first step toward early detection, however, is to have an annual mammogram, and women who have dense breasts should follow up with their primary care physician to discuss their next steps based on their cancer risk (which can also be affected by lifestyle factors such as obesity, tobacco and alcohol use, age of first menstruation, and family history of breast cancer).

Next steps for women with dense breast tissue could include additional screenings such as breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), whole-breast ultrasound and tomosynthesis, which is a 3-D imaging mammogram that enables the OSUCCC – James radiology experts to examine layers of breast tissue and fat in 1-millimeter segments rather than a flat 2D image.

In 2015, Ohio passed a law requiring hospitals and clinics that perform mammography to notify patients if their results show dense breast tissue. The law was enacted to raise awareness for breast cancer risk factors and to alert women to the fact that dense breast tissue could hide abnormalities.

What Are Dense Breasts?

A woman's breasts consist of fatty tissue, milk ducts, glands and supportive tissue. Her breasts are considered to be dense if they contain exceedingly more glandular and supportive (fibrous) tissue than fatty tissue.

There are four levels of breast density:

  • Nearly all fatty tissue (about 10 percent of women are in this category)
  • Scattered fibroglandular (40 percent of women)
  • Heterogeneously (breasts have more fibrous and supportive tissue) dense (40 percent of women)
  • Extremely dense (10 percent of women)

Women in the heterogeneously dense and extremely dense categories make up about 50 percent of the female population whose breast tissue is considered dense.

Breast Imaging Dense Tissue
Fatty breast tissue (left) versus dense breast tissue (right)

Regardless of tissue density, if cancer is detected in any patient, the OSUCCC – James breast cancer subspecialists offer women (and men) a full continuum of world-class care from many of the world’s leading breast cancer authorities, all in one world-class facility – the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center, in Columbus, Ohio. That continuum also includes meeting with numerous experts across all breast cancer disciplines, all on the same day, all in one location, with all of your questions answered at one time.

From there, these experts work with you to create a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan that is designed solely for you, taking into account your specific kind of breast cancer as well as your unique biological makeup, genetics and individual medical history.

Related Video

To view James/10TV Toward a Cancer-Free World segments on advances in breast cancer research, prevention, detection, treatment and cures available at The James or to view TV segments on how we are moving Toward a Cancer-Free World, visit cancer.osu.edu/blog.

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, would like a second opinion, to speak with a breast cancer specialist or to schedule a mammogram, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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