Fibrocystic Breast Disease and Mammogram

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

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.

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