Dense Breasts & Breast Cancer

Dense breasts contain glandular, connective, and fat tissue. The term breast density describes the relative amount of these different types of breast tissue as seen on a mammogram. Dense breasts generally have a high amount of glandular and fibrous connective tissue, and relatively low amounts of fatty breast tissue.

Why does breast density matter?


Women who have dense breast tissue have a higher risk of getting breast cancer. Dense breast tissue also makes it harder for a Radiologist to see a breast cancer and up to 50% of breast cancers can be missed by a mammogram alone.

When it comes to dense breasts, the more glandular the tissue is, the greater the risk. Fibrous tissue may also produce growth factors that lead glandular cells to divide and reproduce more than cells in fatty tissue does. When a cell divides, there is opportunity for a ‘mistake’ in the DNA to occur in new cells; multiple mistakes can eventually result in cancer.


At the end of the day, having dense breasts is not something that you can control. Although breast density is thought to be inherited, the amount of dense breast tissue you have can change over time.

Women who are more likely to have dense breasts are those who:


It is important that every patient with dense breast must be screened with a mammogram and a breast ultrasound for best detection of breast cancer.