Dear Doctor, I am 55 years old and 7 years since my last menstrual period. I recently moved to Fla and just today saw a new OB-GYN for annual Pap and Breast Exam/Mammogram. All was looking good UNTIL my CBE. The Dr. reported that she felt "an increased density" in the left outer aspect of my left breast. I asked specifically if this was a "lump" but she reiterated it was an "increase in density" different from the right side. The usual "nothing to worry about", but now I have to go for the annual Mammogram, PLUS a Unilateral Mammogram and an Ultrasound. Could you elaborate a little on this terminology "increase in density"? (I knew you could find this on mammography, but never heard it in relation to the clinical breast exam...by the way I can't feel the difference). I'm already starting to worry, hence this question to you...so I don't think what you may have to offer will cause any additional concern on my part. Thanks in advance.
Breasts are mainly made of fat with some fibrous tissue holding it together. Some breasts are denser than others and hormones change the amount of density. Most women's breasts aren't identical so it isn't unusual to feel something a little denser in one breast over the other. This was your doctor's first exam of you and so there isn't a baseline of what is "normal" for you.
Getting the extra evaluation is a good thing. Hopefully it will all be fine and now your doctor knows your baseline. Ask your doctor how to do a self exam and you can check it each month yourself. A lump is a defined area within the breast; increased density is just denser normal tissue.
Machelle M. Seibel, MD
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