Multiple risk factors can influence a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer during her lifetime. While many of these risk factors are controllable, such as being overweight after menopause, being physically inactive and drinking alcohol, other risk factors, like age, are beyond a woman’s control. This is not to say that every woman will develop breast cancer as she advances in age. However, the risk of breast cancer does increase with age.
There are several important breast cancer risk factors among women, such as age, family history of breast cancer and reproductive history, but breast density is one risk factor that has not received extensive attention from the media. In this article, I explain breast density, how to find out if you have dense breasts, and what breast density means for your health.
In the past few months there’s been a lot of conflicting information about mammograms in the press. Not surprisingly, we get asked a lot of questions by our patients: Are mammograms useful? At what age should I start getting tested? What are the risks? What if I test positive?
Recent News: A Quick Summary
A few months ago, there was a cost analysis of whether women should start regular mammograms starting at age 40 or age 50. Why was this a concern? Because the American Cancer Society recommends that women start mammogram screening every year starting when they turn 40, while the U.S. Preventive Service’s Task Force recommends that women get a mammogram every other year starting at age 50.
A few weeks later, a Canadian study reported that mammograms did not reduce breast cancer deaths. This study was criticized by U.S. radiologists as being flawed and misleading.