Your Health Matters


FDA requires breast density information to be included in mammography reports

More than 40,000 women per year die in the U.S. from breast cancer. Early detection saves lives, and improving mammography standards improves early detection rates.
mammography machine
Posted at 8:28 PM, Mar 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-10 23:29:23-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Food and Drug Administration is making changes to its regulations regarding mammograms which will require providers to tell women about their breast density. Experts say checking breast density not only helps detect the signs of breast cancer, but can also provide overall health benefits.

In Bakersfield, the physicians of Adventist Health have already been offering people who get mammograms information on breast density. They say dense breasts appear more white on x-rays, which makes it harder to detect breast cancer, as it blends in with normal breast tissue on a mammogram.

Radiologist at Adventist Health Lorraine Ash says Adventist has been informing women about their breast density for roughly 7 years now. She says they put the information in the reports and list the different kinds of densities by category.

"So the categories are divided between A,B,C, and D. A being fatty tissue, B being scattered fibroglandular tissue, C is heterogeneously dense, and then D is extremely dense," said Ash.

According to Ash, most breasts are in between the B and C densities. She says that while many women may think they have heavy breast density due to the size of their breasts, it's actually smaller breasts that actually show more density than larger breasts.

Ash says people who have denser breasts may have an increased chance of developing breast cancer, but that's not always the case.

Doctors recommend that people with breasts schedule regular annual mammograms starting at age 40, and people with a family history of breast or other cancers are advised to schedule that first appointment earlier rather than later.