March Spotlight – Radiology: Breast density and mammography

By Emma Simpson, MD, Interim Chair, Department of Radiology

 Breast density is a hot topic in mammography these days, thanks in part to a wave of legislation sweeping the country, As of  January 2014  we are now mandated by law to inform patients of their mammographic breast density.  There are two commonly cited reasons for this attention:

  • Increased breast density results in a slight increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Even more important is the fact that dense breast tissue can obscure a significant abnormality on mammography.

 We have long been required to send patients a summary of the results of their mammograms. The recent legislation regarding breast density now requires us to also include information regarding the overall density of their mammogram.  The required wording was specifically written into the legislation:

 “This notice contains the results of your recent mammogram, including information about breast density. If your mammogram shows that your breast tissue is dense, you should know that dense breast tissue is a common finding and is not abnormal. Statistics show MANY women could have dense or highly dense breasts. Dense breast tissue can make it harder to find cancer on a mammogram and may be associated with an increased risk of cancer. This information about the result of your mammogram is given to you to raise your awareness and to inform your conversations with your physician. Together, you can decide which screening options are right for you, based on your mammogram results, individual risk factors or physical examination. A report of your results was sent to your physician.”

An extremely helpful resource for both you and your patients is the website  This site has a list of “take home points” as well as frequently asked questions.  For a denser scientific article, see the December issue of Radiology.  We are also pleased to announce that recently the Barbara Brodsky Comprehensive Breast Center at Bryn Mawr Hospital was awarded a grant from the American Society of Breast Surgeons to develop educational resources for the physician and lay community to help them understand breast density issues.

 Resources for our referring physicians include our Breast Center medical directors, geneticists, nurse navigators, and our breast imagers, who can be reached through the campus Breast Centers:

 Bryn Mawr Hospital Comprehensive Breast Center:         484.337.8775

Lankenau Hospital Comprehensive Breast Center:           484.476.8404

Paoli Hospital Holloway Breast Health Center:                  484.565.1309

Riddle Hospital Breast Center:                                           484.227.3325



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