Iowa Breast Density Guidelines

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Breast Density Guidelines

Effective January 1, 2018, all Iowa facilities that provide mammography service are required by law to notify patients of their breast density. This new regulation was mandated by the Iowa Department of Health. 

Following a mammogram, patients will receive a letter sent directly to their homes by the UnityPoint Health mammography department to inform them of their tissue density. 

What is breast density? 

Breasts are made up of a mixture of fibrous, glandular and fatty tissue. Your breasts are considered dense if you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue (dense) but not much fat (not dense). Breast density is not a measure of how breasts feel but rather how the breasts look on a mammogram.

Why does breast density matter? 

Although normal, dense breast tissue makes interpretation of mammograms more difficult. Dense tissue can hide a breast cancer at an early stage. Depending on how dense your breast tissue is, it may moderately increase your risk of breast cancer.

How do I know if I have dense breast tissue?

Breast density is determined by the radiologist who reads your mammogram. There are four categories of mammographic density. The radiologist decides which category best describes your breast tissue density. 

Radiologists classify breast density using a 4-level scale: 

What do I do if I'm worried about my breast density? 

Together with your provider, you can determine if additional screening options are appropriate for you.

The imaging departments at UnityPoint Health – Waterloo can help you take the preventative steps needed to stay healthy. Learn more about our mammography services today and schedule your 3D mammogram by contacting (319) 833-6000.

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