The United States Preventative Services Task Force recently released new recommendations regarding mammogram screenings. They now suggest that individuals whose gender was female at birth be screened for breast cancer on an every-other-year basis beginning at age 40, rather than 50. While less than 10 percent of breast cancer cases are found in patients younger than 45, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say those cases are more likely to be later-stage diagnoses, when the cancer is more aggressive and difficult to treat.
Individuals who have dense breast tissue are being encouraged to undergo additional screenings via ultrasound. Dense breast tissue is a risk factor for breast cancer and can make it difficult to recognize the signs of breast cancer in a traditional mammogram. It’s estimated that mammograms can miss up to half of cancer cases in those with dense breast tissue.
The size and weight of the breast is not a factor in a diagnosis of dense breast tissue; instead, it has to do with the kind of tissue contained within the breast. Those with higher amounts of connective and glandular tissue are considered to have dense breasts. According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly half of all mammograms performed in the United States note the presence of dense breast tissue.For more information about breast cancer screenings, including mammograms and ultrasounds, visit unitypoint.org/cancer.