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The Roles of Mammography, Sonography, and MRI in Women with Dense Breasts: From Screening to Investigative Imaging

Marlene Johnson, MEd, RT(R)

*Education Director - Department of Radiology, University of Utah Health Care, Cottonwood Heights, Utah (Retired); Medical Writer.

Address correspondence to: Marlene Johnson: Mj2216@me.com.

Disclosure Statement: Ms Johnson reports having no financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.

ABSTRACT

 Breast density has become an area of increased interest in women's healthcare today.  The impact it has on breast cancer risk, the method used to categorize a woman's breast density type, and the difficulty breast density creates in effective breast cancer screening are valid concerns.  Federal and state legislation regarding breast density notification have been enacted in an effort to raise public awareness and encourage research to answer a multitude of questions surrounding breast density, though the impact this legislation will have on breast cancer detection and survival has yet to be determined. However, in order to implement standard practices for imaging women with dense breasts, referring physicians need direction on the best supplemental imaging technique(s) to use.  This article will examine breast density, explain the methodology used to categorize breast density in women, and discuss the problems associated with imaging women with dense breast tissue. Sonography, magnetic resonance imaging, and digital breast tomosynthesis will be presented as potential dense breast screening techniques.  

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