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Breast Density
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Breast Density

I have been reading a lot about breast density being a risk factor in breast cancer.  I am 51 years old and have been menopausal for a year. I am not on hormones. There is no breast cancer history in my family but I do have some risk factors such as having my first child at 31 and starting my periods at 11 1/2.

I have gotten mammograms every year since my 40's and every year since I turned 50.  When I went for my routine screening yesterday, everything was fine. I know my breasts are dense, I have read the copies of my previous mammograms and they all say "markedly dense". I asked about breast density yesterday and I was told my breasts were dense but the radiologist did not feel that it was considered a risk factor.

When do breasts usually start turning to more fatty tissue?  I have written the radiologist a note to find out what percentage of my breasts are dense. I realize a lot of breast density is based on genetics and there isn't a whole lot I can do about this but I would like the issue put into perspective so I won't worry unduly about it.  Thanks.
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Dear RBSub, The relationship between breast density and breast cancer risk continues to be evaluated.  We do not know for sure if increased breast density itself translates into increased breast cancer risk.  One of the theories is that whatever is contributing to the increasing density of the breasts is what could be the risk.  For example, hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women may increase density, and potentially increase risk.  

As we age the ratio of breast tissue to fat tissue changes.  Particularly after menopause when estrogen levels lower, there is much less breast tissue in comparison to fat.
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My last couple of mammograms have shown increased breast density. I had a total abdominal hysterectomy 1.5 years ago and have been on HRT since.  This past month, my right breast has become very tender and painful.  My doctor told me that I have fibrocystic breast changes and he has taken me off the HRT to see if that will help.  I have a strong history of breast cancer in my family (mother, 3 of her sisters and my father's brother).  All are in remission.  Should I be more concerned about this then my doctor is telling me?
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