PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – When a mammogram report says, “you have dense breasts,” do you know what that means?

It’s an issue for 40 percent of all women. Many don’t know they have it or if they do, they don’t really know what it means.

For some of them, not knowing could mean missing an early diagnosis of breast cancer.

Dense breasts have more glandular and connective tissue, which can hide small abnormalities on mammogram.

Currently, 23 states have laws to inform women if their breasts are dense.

A recently study in the Journal of the American Medical Association said many women don’t understand what that means.

“Forty percent of these women have dense breasts. And the question is how many of those women with dense breasts are at high risk. High risk means a greater than 20 percent chance of developing breast cancer,” Allegheny Health Network Breast Imaging Specialist Dr. William Poller said.

Being high risk may require additional imaging, for example ultrasound, MRI, or tomosynthesis — a more detailed mammogram.

“And high risk, the most important factors are history of breast cancer, history of a sibling under the age of 50, first-degree relative, and gene positive. Those are the big three,” Dr. Poller said.

Those big three cannot be seen on a mammogram.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

Dr. Maria Simbra