Do You Have a Higher Risk of Breast Cancer?


Our radiologist at The Woman’s Clinic is seeing an increase in breast cancer in younger women. In many cases, a breast cancer diagnosis is linked to a family history of breast cancer and dense breast tissue. In light of this, it is important to know your family’s medical history and share that information with your doctor. Dense breast tissue can only be determined by a mammogram, which is why regular screenings are so crucial. Don’t let breast cancer sneak up on you. Learn about the risk factors and know your own body so that you can better protect yourself from cancer.

Should I Be Alarmed About Dense Breast Tissue?

Your breasts are made up of glandular, connective and fatty tissue. If you have dense breast tissue, you are among 40% of women who have a low amount of fatty tissue and high amounts of glandular and fibrous connective tissue. Breast dense tissue can be inherited, a result of postmenopausal hormone removal therapy, or associated with a low body mass index. Knowing whether or not you have dense breast tissue is important because those with dense breast tissue have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

However, dense breast tissue does not increase your risk of dying from breast cancer. It is alarming only in the fact that it can be difficult to discern fibrous tissue from abnormal calcifications or tumors. If your mammogram reveals that you have dense breast tissue, your doctor may recommend an MRI or ultrasound to supplement images of your breast. You may also be eligible for a mammogram earlier than the age of 40 if dense breast tissue runs in your family. If you have questions or concerns about your breast tissue, contact your doctor today.

Why is My Family Medical History Important?

If your mother, sister, or daughter has received a breast cancer diagnosis, your risk for diagnosis doubles. And your risk is five times higher if two first-degree relatives have been diagnosed. Your family may share an abnormal gene, BRCA1 or BRCA2, that increases your risk for breast cancer. Knowing your family’s medical history-and sharing that information with your doctor-is the first step in preventing your own breast cancer diagnosis. The American Cancer Society has currently set the age recommendation for your first mammogram at 40 years old. You may be encouraged to receive this cancer screening test prior to your 40th birthday if your doctor knows your family’s medical history. Scheduling a regular mammogram can help detect the presence of cancer in an early stage and can truly be lifesaving.

Are There Other Preventative Measures?

There are lifestyle changes you can make today that can reduce your risk for breast cancer. One, maintain a healthy weight. This can be accomplished by exercising regularly and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Well-balanced doesn’t mean fast food on Saturday and a home-cooked meal on Sunday. It means you consume a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Avoid foods that are overly processed since they usually have a high-calorie, high-fat, and high-salt content. Limit your consumption of alcohol and stop smoking. If you are willing to make these lifestyle habits, you will go a long way to protect your body from breast cancer. 

If you are at a higher risk for breast cancer because you have a family history of the disease, or you have dense breast tissue, schedule an appointment with us at The Woman’s Clinic to discuss screening recommendations. We also encourage you to contact your insurance company. In some cases, they will pay for an early mammogram. Click here to learn more about our state-of-art breast center and why so many women choose The Woman’s Clinic for their mammogram.

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