Breast density and its effects on mammograms

Austin (KXAN)- Since the passage of Henda’s Law, thousands of women across Texas have received notification from their doctor’s office about “dense breast tissue” possibly impeding the results of their mammogram.

Henda’s Law is a bill that was passed by the Texas House and Senate in 2011 that was named after Henda Salmeron, a woman who found a lump in her breast that had not been detected on her mammogram. The lump turned out to be a large malignancy in her breast, missed because Henda had dense breast tissue.

Studies show 40% of women have dense breast tissue and 10% of women have extremely dense breasts.

Dense breasts make it more difficult for a radiologist to detect cancer on a mammogram. Dense tissue appears white on a mammogram. Lumps also appear white, so they can be very difficult to see. Mammograms can be less accurate in women with dense breasts.

Breasts are considered to be dense if you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue, but not much fat. Breast density is a well-established predictor of breast cancer risk. Women with dense breasts have a four-to-six fold increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Dr. Michele McDermott, Certified Menopause Specialist with The Austin Diagnostic Clinic joined KXAN to shed some light on the confusion surrounding these latest mammogram developments.

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