Breast Cancer Awareness For Plus-Size Women

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.  This blog post is focused on Breast Cancer Awareness For Plus-Size Women.  Dense breasts vs. fatty breasts.


Breast Cancer Awareness For Plus-Size Women

This blog post is offering general information gathered by a non-medically trained person.  Please seek medical advice from your personal physician and or OBGYN.



Dense Breast vs. Fatty Breast

Breast density is a term that describes the relative amount of glandular, connective, and fat tissue in the breast as seen on a mammogram.  Dense breasts have relatively high amounts of glandular tissue and fibrous connective tissue and relatively low amounts of fatty breast tissue.

Fatty breast is breast tissue that is made up of almost all fatty tissue. This breast tissue does not look dense on a mammogram, which may make it easier to find tumors or other changes in the breast. Fatty breast tissue is more common in older women than in younger women.  

Please note: Fatty breasts have nothing to do with your personal size or weight.


Breast Cancer Awareness For Plus-Size Women

Nearly half of all women 40 and older have dense breasts.  Only a mammogram can show if a woman has dense breasts. Dense breast tissue cannot be felt in a clinical breast exam or in a breast self-exam. For this reason, dense breasts are sometimes referred to as mammographically dense breasts. 

Breast density is often inherited, but other factors can influence it. Factors like increasing age, having children, and or the use of some hormonal therapies.


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Dense Breast Tissue Can Affect Mammograms

Mammograms can be harder to read in women with dense breasts.  Dense breast tissue and some abnormal breast changes, such as calcifications and tumors, appear as white areas in the mammogram. As a result, mammography is less sensitive in women with dense breasts — that is, it is more likely to miss cancer.

Women with dense breasts may be called back for follow-up tests more often than women with fatty breasts. Dense breasts can also put women at higher risk of interval breast cancer.




Dense Breast Tissue Can Affect Mammograms

Also, dense breasts can put women at higher risk of interval breast cancer.  Women with dense breasts also have a higher risk of breast cancer than women with fatty breasts.  The risk increases with increasing breast density.

Please note: Research has found that breast cancer patients who have dense breasts are no more likely to die from breast cancer than breast cancer patients who have fatty breasts, after accounting for other health factors and tumor characteristics.

In some states, mammography providers are required to inform women who have a mammogram about breast density in general or about whether they have dense breasts.  Many states now require that women with dense breasts be covered by insurance for supplemental imaging tests.

Please note: Check with your insurance provider about coverage.

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Learn Your Breast

Try to get in the habit of doing a breast self-examination once a month to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. Examine yourself several days after your period ends, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender.

Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they opt to do so. At the age 45 to 54 women should get mammograms every year.  Women 55 and older can switch to having a mammogram every 2 years.

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