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Breast density is a proportional measure of the glandular, connective and fatty tissues within a woman's breasts. It is most commonly determined using mammography, a diagnostic test that uses low dose x-rays. Having dense breasts is not an abnormal condition; in fact, about half of all women over 40 have dense breasts.
Studies have consistently shown a strong relationship between breast cancer risk and mammographic parenchymal patterns, typically assessed by percent mammographic density. This paper will review the advancing role of mammographic texture analysis as a potential novel approach to characterize the breast parenchymal tissue to augment conventional density assessment in breast cancer risk estimation. The analysis of mammographic texture provides refined, localized descriptors of parenchymal tissue complexity.
Women with a certain gene mutation are among the high-risk patients for breast cancer. With a magnetic resonance tomography MRT it is possible to detect tissue with measurable active blood supply which indicates an increased breast cancer risk. The molecular biologist and radiologist, Barbara Bennani-Baiti and the radiologist Pascal Baltzer of the Clinic for Radiology and Nuclear Medicine of MedUni Vienna are now exploring whether tissue with active blood supply visible with MRT could indicate a grater risk in those patients without gene mutation.
Knowledge of one's fibroglandular breast density is important, because high density increases the risk of cancer and decreases the accuracy of mammograms. A comparision of a small breast cancer found in a patient without dense breast tissue leftand a tumor found in a woman with dense fibroglandular tissue. SecondLook Premier software from iCAD marks potential mass oval and calcifications rectangle on left breast with dense tissue.
Some mammogram reports sent to women mention breast density. Your health care provider can also tell you if your mammogram shows that you have dense breasts. In some states, women whose mammograms show heterogenously dense or extremely dense breasts must be told that they have dense breasts in the summary of the mammogram report that is sent to patients sometimes called the lay summary.
Breasts are the same in men and women until puberty. They also have connective tissue, which includes adipose fatty tissue. These tissues make up the shape of your breasts.
This article describes the historical classifications of breast density. Pioneers in classification of density include Leborgne in and Wolfe inwho described an increased risk of breast cancer in radiographically dense breast. The first qualitative classification of mammographic density patterns was described by Wolfe in
There is now a large amount of evidence showing that mammographic densities are an indicator of increased risk of breast cancer. There is as yet no generally agreed upon and recognized method of classifying these densities, although the available evidence shows that quantitative description of densities creates larger gradients of risk than Wolfe's classification and larger risk gradients than most other risk factors for breast cancer. It seems likely that improved methods of describing densities quantitatively, and possibly other methods of characterizing the tissue changes that are responsible for the densities, will allow greater discrimination.