Breast Density Notification
As of October 1, 2013, Maryland state law requires that mammography providers
include a special notice in the results letter sent to women who have
undergone screening mammography. The notice includes general information
about breast tissue density and a prompt to discuss this information with
their health care provider.
To be in compliance with Maryland legislation, all patients who receive
mammograms at the Eunice Q. Sorin Women’s Diagnostic Center will
receive a letter that includes the following language:
This notice contains the results of your recent mammogram, including information
about breast density and ends with paragraph, risk factors, or physical
examination. A report of your results was sent to your physician. If your
mammogram shows that your breast tissue is dense, you should know that
dense breast tissue is a common finding and is not abnormal, with about
half of women having dense or highly dense breasts. However, dense breast
tissue can make it harder to find cancer on a mammogram and may also be
associated with an increased risk of cancer. This information about the
result of your mammogram is given to you to raise your awareness and to
inform your conversations with your physician. Together, you can decide
which screening options are right for you based on your mammogram results,
individual risk factors, or physical examination. A report of your results
was sent to your physician.
The breast is composed of glandular tissue and fatty tissue. Dense breasts
are those that have a greater proportion of glandular tissue than fat.
There are four levels of breast density; two of those levels, heterogeneously
dense and extremely dense, are considered to be dense breasts. These breast
density levels represent about 50% of women.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, knowing
your breast density is important because women with dense breasts may
have a higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to women of the
same age without dense tissue. Additionally, dense breast tissue makes
it harder for breast cancer to be seen because breast cancer and normal
glandular tissue both appear white on mammograms.
Digital mammography, the type offered at our Women’s Diagnostic
Center, improves cancer detection, compared with analog mammography, particularly
in women who have dense breasts. High-quality screening mammograms with
digital mammography and regular clinical breast exams are the most effective
ways to detect breast cancer early.
The need for additional screening with MRI and/or Ultrasound in women
with dense breasts is still up for debate. Women with dense breasts who
are concerned about their breast cancer risks should discuss the possibilities
of additional screening tests with their physician.
There are many ways women in general, and particularly those with dense
breasts, may reduce their risk for breast cancer:
• Obtain annual screening mammograms as recommended by the American
College of Radiology, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology &
American Cancer Society.
• Obtain regular clinical breast exams by a health care provider.
• Do monthly self breast exams.
• Make healthy lifestyle choices.
For more information, or questions about breast density and the new state
law, please contact the Eunice Q. Sorin Women’s Diagnostic Center,
at 410-641-9215, or your women’s health provider.