Because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s probably a good bet you’ve gotten a reminder or three about scheduling your annual mammogram. But hold on a sec, we've got something super important to chat about first: breast density.
This year, the FDA updated their regulations to require that imaging centers give you a heads-up if your breasts happen to be on the denser side. Now, you might be wondering, why is this such a big deal? Well, dense breasts show up as white on a mammogram, just like breast cancer does. Sneaky, right? Sometimes, cancer can hide in there, making it tough to spot. Plus, having dense breast tissue might increase your risk of getting breast cancer. So, it's crucial to find out if your breasts are dense.
Dr. Mindy Goldfischer, the chief of breast imaging and medical director of The Leslie Simon Breast Care and Cytodiagnosis Center at Englewood Health, explains, "This information alerts women to the potential need for additional imaging for dense breast tissue, such as a breast sonogram. A sonogram may uncover cancers hiding in dense breast tissue."
Dr. Goldfischer adds, "Remember, a woman's personal risk of breast cancer depends on other factors like age, family history, specific gene mutations, when they had their first child, and if they were exposed to chest radiation before the age of 40, among other factors."
That's why your provider will take a detailed history and calculate your unique risk score. If your score is 20% or higher after considering all these factors, you may be recommended to have a breast MRI in addition to your annual mammogram. If your score falls between 15% and 19%, a breast sonogram may be recommended to supplement your screening mammogram.
As a resident of New Jersey, you should already be receiving this level of counseling and care. New Jersey has had a law in place since 2014 that requires providers to not only notify women that they have dense breast tissue but also requires insurers to cover follow-up evaluations like ultrasounds. Just in case you needed more reasons to love living here.
But here's the thing, your healthcare provider won't be able to tell you if you have dense breasts or help you schedule follow-up appointments unless you go see them for your annual exam and mammogram.
So, here's your first step: make that appointment! You can visit http://englewoodhealth.org/appointments to set up your visit with one of Englewood Health's breast cancer specialists. Get ready to feel powerful armed with all this newfound knowledge!