Are you Dense?

When most people ask this question of you, it is almost always an insult…. when you’re in the breast world of radiology, it has to do with the breast tissue and % of fat and connective tissue.   I used to think that having dense breasts meant my muscle tone was good!  Nooooo, has nothing to do with muscle..has to do with fat!

My breasts have always been dense in complexion.  This makes it harder for radiologists to obtain clear readings of the presence of cancer.

This is not trivial.  To compound this, a study has revealed that women with dense breasts have a higher likelihood of DCIS – (ductal carcinoma in situ – surprise, that’s what I have!).  It gets better… The researchers found, as expected, that the risk of breast cancer increased progressively with increasing breast density.   The dense area consists primarily of breast ducts and connective tissue, while the non-dense tissue is mostly fat.

Results of a previous study showed that patients with DCIS who had higher mammographic density had about two to three times increased risk for a second breast cancer.

As you know, I had been struggling with the decision of breast reconstruction. This made the decision for me.

All implants, silicone and saline, impede the ability to detect cancer on mammograms.  However, the studies indicate that two important points:

  1. Cancers are more frequently missed in women with implants
    1. 68% sensitivity for mammography for women without implants versus 45% for women with implants
    2. But, the overall stage and prognosis of those cancers, once found, is the same for women with or without implants.

Combine this with the proclivity for breast cancer…. I choose health and life over cosmetics, and I will not go for reconstruction.  Some of this may be difficult mentally, and perhaps times of tears, but life calls and there’s so much more to enjoy.

Thank you to everyone who spoke with me (always at length) to discuss this topic of reconstruction and support me through the journey.  I can’t tell you how much it means to me.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Helene Jeanette
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 01:25:35

    I am so thankful that I have a strong, intelligent, vibrant, beautiful sister. I’ve always rather liked the image of an Amazon warrior (no doubt as romanticized as a Disney movie) but if they can cut off a breast to better draw a bow and still be beautiful, so are you in so many ways! There are no right or wrong decisions, only the best choice you can make for yourself in this moment. Love you totally for all you are.


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