Breast Density Guidelines

Women have heard for years that the density of their breast tissue may impact their mammogram, yet often women weren’t sure of the level of density of their breast. As of January 1, 2018, all Iowa facilities providing mammography services must notify patients of their breast density in accordance with a new regulation from the Iowa Department of Health.

Following a mammogram, patients will receive a letter sent directly to their homes by the Spencer Hospital mammography department to inform them of their tissue density, which is classified on a 4-level scale. 

What is breast density? 

Breasts are made up of a mixture of fibrous, glandular and fatty tissue. Your breasts are considered dense if you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue (dense) but not much fat (not dense). Breast density is measured by how the breast appear on a mammogram rather than breast appearance.

Why does breast density matter? 

Dense breast tissue is normal; however, it may make interpretation of mammograms more difficult. Dense tissue can hide a breast cancer at an early stage. Depending on how dense your breast tissue is, it may moderately increase your risk of breast cancer.

How do I know if I have dense breast tissue?

Breast density is determined by the radiologist who reads your mammogram. There are four categories of mammographic density. The radiologist decides which category best describes your breast tissue density. 

Radiologists classify breast density using a 4-level scale.

Does 3D mammography provide better imaging for dense breast?

3D mammography allows the radiologist to examine the breast tissue layer by layer, exposing any abnormalities in the tissue which may not be easily visualized in a traditional two-dimensional mammogram.

What do I do if I'm worried about my breast density? 

Together with your provider, you can determine if additional screening options are appropriate for you.

The imaging department at Spencer Hospital can help you take the preventative steps needed to stay healthy. Learn more about our mammography services today and schedule your 3D mammogram by contacting (712) 264-6500.