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The one thing every woman needs to know about her boobs

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
January 22nd, 2019

You don’t need me to tell you about the importance of copping a good, regular feel of your boobies as often as possible. We’ve grown up with that message and the reason is pretty simple…. we need to be familiar enough with them to notice any small changes ASAP.

What I DO want to tell you about though, is a recent experience I had at the doctors in which I was labelled as having ‘dense breasts.’ Now, I’m not always the sharpest tool in the shed, so when my doctor was looking at my mammogram results and said, “You’ve got dense breasts,” I just thought she meant they were big and heavy, which they are, so I just nodded along with a dumb smile on my face like, ‘You got that right, sister!’ She obviously sensed my zero level of comprehension and went on to explain to me what dense breasts actually meant… and as it happens, if you’ve got them, you should really be aware of them.

So, here’s the low-down: our melons are made up of a heap of different tissue including connective tissue, fatty tissue, milk glands and ducts and glandular tissue. Those of us with dense breasts have less fatty tissue and more glandular tissue than our non-dense sisters, who have more fatty tissue. So, the less fatty tissue you have, the ‘denser’ your bazookas. Why is this a bit of a problemo? Well, fatty, or non-dense breast tissue, shows up as black on a mammo, so detection of breast cancer, which shows up as white, is easier to spot. Non-fatty tissue found in dense breasts, however, shows up as white on mammograms, making cancer that much trickier to spot. Check out the pic below for a visual…

Breast cancer is more difficult to spot in dense breasts
Image: DenseBreast and Dr Wendie Berg

According to BreastScreen WA, research shows that women with dense breasts often have a higher risk of breast cancer because of the difficulty in spotting the cancer among the dense breast tissue on a mammogram. Radiologists will usually report back to your doctor if your results come back as being dense in the breasticle area, and this is something your doc should discuss with you. While it’s nothing to be alarmed about, it’s certainly something you and your doctor need to be aware of, so future testing is that bit more cautious.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that women with dense breasts –

Have a lower body mass index: So, those with lower body fat are more likely to have dense breast tissue – but don’t take this for gospel. This is certainly not the case for me.

Are younger: Although women of all ages can have dense breast tissue, the density of your boobs tends to diminish as you age, so you may find a decrease as you get older.

Have undertaken hormone therapy: Women who are taking hormone replacements through menopause generally have denser breast tissue.

Whether or not you have dense breasts, it’s important to keep on top of your breast checks, but bear in mind that the interpretation of the radiology results from tests such as mammograms is just that little bit more difficult for those of us with non-fatty norks. Any woman over the age of 40 should have yearly mammograms anyway, and if you’re known to have dense breasts, just know that it’s something to keep an eye on during the testing process.

Dannii Minogue’s big sis, Kylie, was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago. She spoke to us about what the experience was like for the family watching on in our pod chat below. Subscribe here for more awesome chats.