HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now)- Amy Hennessey has a family history of breast cancer and was anxious about her first mammogram.
Hennessey had reason to be nervous. In her words, "I was really concerned because I do have family history. On my father's side, my grandmother had cancer in both breasts and my two aunties also had scares."
Under a new State law, along with her results, Amy will receive notification that she has "dense breast tissue which can make it harder to find cancer on a mammogram and may also be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer."
Dr. Bryan Gushiken, Oncology Radiologist at Kapiolani Women's Center explained, "It could be masking a cancer there. Studies show dense breasts can hide about 10 to percent of breast cancers out there."
Dr. Gushiken added, "We're looking for lumps or masses which are much more conspicuous in a patient that does not have dense breast tissue."
Dense tissue is marked by a white web-like or cloudy configuration that can obscure lumps.
Gushiken pointed out an example where tests may have missed a lump in a patient with dense breasts.
Her mammogram appeared clean one year ago. Gushiken said, "When you look at this, I don't see anything there and it was hiding."
Now, the difference is so pronounced, it's visible to an untrained eye.
Dr. Gushiken warns you shouldn't panic if you get a notice, saying "Nationwide about 50 percent of patients are classified as having dense breast tissue so there's a lot of patients. In Hawaii, we think it's even higher than that."
You can opt for two other scans. That cancer showed up as a big black mass on a sonogram the lump sharpens with a 3D mammogram view.
Hennessey thinks it's important to know all the risks and options when it comes to breast cancer. In her words, "For me, I think it was great that they notified me and what that could mean for me and what I should talk about with my doctor."
If you elect to do the extra screening, you may have to pay out of pocket unless your doctor recommends the tests for diagnosis.
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