Is Your Breast Tissue Actually Dense? It May Depend on the Test Used, Your Race, and Your Weight

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Women who undergo 3-D or synthetic mammography are less likely than those who have standard digital mammograms to be identified as having higher breast density, according to research published in the journal Radiology. The researchers also found that breast density was downgraded more often in African-American women and women with higher body mass index (BMI).

Breast density is the relative amount of glandular and connective tissue compared to fatty tissue in a woman’s breasts. It’s assessed during mammography screening and used to help determine your risk of developing breast cancer. Women with high breast density are at higher risk for the disease and are often sent for additional testing.

In February 2019, Congress directed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish a national minimum standard for including breast density information in mammography reports. Most states in the U.S. (36) already require women to be notified of their breast density in these reports.

For this study, researchers at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in West Philadelphia analyzed data on nearly 25,000 women who underwent mammography screening between 2010 and 2017.