The New Breast Rating You Need to Know

Some experts say all women should be aware of their breast density—because a high number means you’re at increased risk of breast cancer 

by Joan Raymond
woman looking at her breast illustration image
Photograph: Illustrated by Aad Goudappel

A large, multicenter trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed benefits from adding ultrasound—for women at the highest risk. The trial involved some 3,000 women with denser breasts (BI-RADS 3 and 4), who also had one other risk factor. Results showed that 7.6 cancers were found per 1,000 women who had had a mammogram and no other testing. But 11.8 cancers were found per 1,000 women among those who had had a mammogram and a screening ultrasound, a 55 percent increase in sensitivity. So it’s worth discussing all your risk factors with your doctor.

You can lower your odds of developing breast cancer by losing weight if you need to and exercising regularly, advises Kerlikowske. The American Cancer Society recommends working out moderately for 150 minutes or vigorously for 75 minutes a week.

Next: Healthy Breasts at 40, 50, and 60

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Cheryl Barker10.14.2013

Great info. Sounds like hospitals definitely need to start including the density numbers on mammogram reports. Maybe we can specifically request it when we go for our next mammograms.

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