FDA to require mammogram centers to inform women of breast density

Reporter: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:

One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

But a new recommendation from the Federal Drug Administration could lead to a better and earlier diagnosis.

The agency ruling means all mammogram centers must tell women if they have dense breasts that could put them at a higher risk for breast cancer.

Breast tissue density varies from woman to woman.

It has nothing to do with the size or feel of a woman’s breasts.

Dr. Amy Fox is a radiation oncologist with Advocate Radiation Oncology in Fort Myers. She said a mammogram would give you a definitive read.

“The fatty tissue looks black, and all the fiber glandular breast tissue is what looks white, and it’s much harder to see things in that tissue,” Fox said.

The danger is dense breast tissue makes it more difficult to spot tumors.

“I just, I felt something, and I thought, huh, it was real tiny,” said Kristen Lyons. “It just felt different.”

Density is divided into four levels: A, B, C, and D.

A and B would be “not dense,” while C and D are “dense.”

The updated regulations require that patients simply be told whether their breasts are dense or not dense. Dr. Fox believes this is a good first step.

“They’re going to tell you that you have denser breasts, but then the question is, what do women do with that information right now? People have been looking at whether those people should have ultrasound testing on top of mammograms,” Fox said.

The goal is to identify cancer at its earliest.

Many breast health centers already inform patients about their breast density, but this sets the standard nationwide.

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