Mammographic breast density: impact on breast cancer risk and implications for screening

Radiographics. 2015 Mar-Apr;35(2):302-15. doi: 10.1148/rg.352140106.


Mammographic breast density is rapidly becoming a hot topic in both the medical literature and the lay press. In the United States, recent legislative changes in 19 states now require radiologists to notify patients regarding breast density as well as the possible need for supplemental screening. Federal legislation regarding breast density notification has been introduced, and its passage is likely on the horizon. An understanding of the context, scientific evidence, and controversies surrounding the topic of breast density as a risk factor for breast cancer is critical for radiologists. The current state of evidence is presented regarding supplemental screening for women with dense breasts, including the use of digital breast tomosynthesis, whole-breast ultrasonography, and gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging. A review of current practice guidelines and additional sources of information will improve radiologists' understanding of the relevant subject of breast density and enable them to respond appropriately to questions from patients, clinicians, and the media.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mammography* / methods
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary