Photo of African american woman with pink shirt and breast cancer ribbon on it.


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Cancer risk increases in women with dense breast tissue

By: Jewell Davis,

The American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging is increasing awareness of how dense breast tissue conditions in women may lead to higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Portrait of Susan Shamburger

Dr. Susan Shamburger, associate professor of radiology, emphasizes that breast cancers may not be visible on mammography, so patients may show larger tumors at a later stage compared to those who do not have dense breast tissue. She urges women to get screened to determine whether they are at risk.

“Annual screening mammography starting at age 40 results in the greatest mortality reduction, the most lives saved and the most life years gained,” said Shamburger. “This is why the American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging recommend yearly mammography in women 40-and-older (including 40-49).”

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released new guidelines requiring providers nationwide to inform women if they have dense breast tissue, which is vital to early breast detection. 

According to updates released by the FDA, new guidelines set forth by the agency amends regulations issued under the Mammography Quality Standards Act requiring providers to inform women if they have dense breast tissue. The new guidelines, in essence, set a minimum amount of information mammogram providers will be required to tell women, and it provides uniform guidance which now extends across the country.

Shamburger continues to encourage women to take preventative action when contemplating choices regarding breast healthcare. 

“The years of life lost to breast cancer are highest for women in their 40s,” she said. “At the same time, forty percent of all the years of life saved by mammography are among women in their 40s.” 

To learn more about UMMC’s breast imaging services, mammogram screening locations, or to schedule your next appointment, call (601) 815-4723 or visit here.

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