Dense breast tissue: What does it mean?

If you have been told you have dense breasts, it simply means you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue, and less fatty tissue. There is no clear reason why some women have denser breast tissue than others, but it is common and it is not abnormal. For most women, breast density decreases with age.

Breast density is determined when you have a mammogram. You will receive a letter summarizing your mammogram results, including if you have dense breasts, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Having dense breasts does not mean a high risk of cancer overall. There are many risk factors for breast cancer, including age, personal and family history, starting menopause late or menstrual cycles early. Your overall risk depends on all your risk factors combined.

While dense breasts can make it harder for doctors to see cancer, it is still important to get a mammogram. Most cancers can be seen with a mammogram, even for women with dense breast tissue. It is also important that you are familiar with your breasts and how they normally look or feel. If at any time you find something that does not seem normal, make sure to talk with your doctor right away.

Discuss with your physician what having dense breasts means for you. Make sure to share your medical history, including anything that might increase your risks for getting breast cancer.

Sparrow Eaton Hospital’s Breast Care Center hosts monthly Breast Cancer Risk Assessment classes. If you already know you have a high risk for breast cancer, a family history, or have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, this class can help answer your questions about breast health, genetics, screenings and diagnostic testing. The classes are free and current schedules can be found at

~Information provided by the American Cancer Society