Once you reach the age of 40 it is essential to have regular mammograms in order to monitor your breasts for any abnormalities. The purpose of a mammogram is to allow the doctors to determine if the internal structure of your breast tissue has any unidentifiable breast density and growth. Breast density shown through a mammogram appears light on the file and the surrounding fatty tissues are darker in color. This allows the doctors to get a better determination on the amount of healthy breast tissue and possible presence of abnormalities. The following information provides details on the causes of breast density.
Glandular Breast Tissue
Healthy glandular breast tissue is a known cause of breast density. Glands located in the breast form the duct and lobule structures. The breast lobules are made up of cells used to produce breast milk. The breast ducts use long tubes made up of glandular tissue to carry the milk to the nipple, which is then released during lactation. The breast lobules have epithelial cells, which work to produce milk proteins and fats, which mix with fluid to create breast milk. These ducts and lobules can cause a healthy form of breast density, which are visible on the mammogram and help the doctor assess the structure of the breast. If during a self breast exam you notice anything that seems different, consult with your doctor.
Benign Growths in Breast Tissue
Benign growth within the tissue of the breast may cause breast density, which can also be referred to as lumps of dense tissue. The lumps that have formed may also contain calcifications and dense fibrous connective tissues as a result of benign diseases located in the breast tissue. Hollow breast lumps that show up on the mammogram may be fluid-filled breast cysts. If a benign breast lump shows up on the mammogram the doctor will ask you to return to the clinic to have a breast biopsy. The biopsy is performed to determine the cause of the growth. Typically, benign breast cysts are drained or removed through laser surgery.
Breast cancer can also be another cause of breast density. The mammogram may show that the dense breast growth has affected how the ducts and lobules function. This is because breast cancer commonly occurs within the breast ducts. The tumorous breast cancer region within the breasts typically contains densely-packed proliferating cells. However, advanced stages of breast cancer are less dense because the proliferating cells located within the tumors start to die.