These images show how breast tissue density can make it difficult to find breast cancer. “Here’s showing the difference in a breast with very little density compared to an extremely dense breast,” explained Dr. David Rock, a breast surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Health.
“In the fattier breast, even a tiny breast cancer will show up very clearly. This breast has a little density but not so much that cancer doesn’t show up. Once you get to the upper-density C and D you can see there are two cancers here that got completely missed by that mammogram,” said Dr. Rock.
Breast tissue density is based on how much estrogen women have. Because women with dense breast tissue are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, Florida is now one of 33 states requiring radiologists to inform patients what their breast density is. “The whole idea of legislating having to tell the patient came from a woman in Connecticut who had a normal mammogram, thought she was fine, and then two or three months later developed a lump in her breast which turned out to be aggressive cancer,” said Dr. Rock.
After a mammogram, patients receive a letter telling them if their mammogram was normal or abnormal—now, that letter must reveal what their breast tissue density is. “It’s important to let the patients and practitioners know about the law and about the reporting so that they can make a decision whether or not additional screening is required,” said Dr. Rock.
Patients who have dense breast tissue and a history of breast cancer may require additional screening every year. Making it important to talk to your doctor about the results of your mammogram.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.