by Dr. Carla Garcia, D.O.M.
“I went in for my mammogram and they want me to come back for another one. They say I have dense breasts and they need another mammogram. Mammograms are painful and I don’t want the radiation exposure. What can I do?” We hear this from patients almost every day and they are frustrated and confused.
Dense breast tissue has more connective tissue and is less fatty. It appears white on a mammogram. Fatty tissue usually appears gray or black. Cancer also appears white on a mammogram and this makes it difficult for the radiologist reading the mammogram to distinguish tumors from normally dense breast tissue; both are white. Doctors have been quoted as saying “It is like looking for a snowball in a snowstorm or like looking for a polar bear on an ice cap,” everything appears white. Dense breasts are totally normal and very common; especially in younger women, although many older women have dense breast tissue too. According to the Mayo Clinic, about half of the women who have mammograms; have dense breasts. That is half of the women who have mammograms. There are many more women with dense breast tissue that avoid mammograms entirely.
If you are a woman with dense breast tissue and doing repeat mammograms is scary, then thermographic breast screening can help you. Thermographic screening is totally painless (no compression) and it is completely radiation free. It looks for inflammation (early disease) which occurs before calcification (late disease and what mammograms look for).