Fibrocystic Breast Disease and Mammogram

Lawrence J. Solin, MD, FACR
Last Modified: November 18, 2001

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Question
My doctor last week diagnosed me with fibrocystic breast disease and ordered a mammogram. My mother also has this condition, and our family has no history of breast cancer. I am only 30 and do not think a mammogram necessary. What would be the benefit of the mammogram?


Answer
Lawrence J. Solin, MD, FACR, Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania responds:

Mammograms are often obtained to evaluate the patient with a finding on physical examination, such as a breast mass. However, younger women tend to have dense breast tissue, and therefore, the ability of a mammogram in this age group to detect a breast mass is much less than for an older women. If the mammogram is negative (i.e., does not also show a mass), then other imaging modalities, such as ultrasound, may be considered, especially for the younger patient.

Breast cancer uncommonly does occur in young patients. Although the risk of breast cancer in a 30 year old woman is low, it is important to remember that an abnormal finding, such as a breast mass, should not be ignored, and any woman who suspects that she has a breast problem should seek prompt medical attention.


News
RSNA: Mammograms May Increase Breast Cancer Risk

Dec 20, 2014 - In women at high risk of breast cancer, low-dose radiation from annual mammography may be associated with an increased risk of the disease, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4 in Chicago.



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