SELF's on-call medical advisor gets to the bottom of all your big health questions.
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Q. My doctor told me I have dense breasts. What should I know or do about that? -Laurian W., Miami
Dr. Lodge: First, understand what it means: You have more glandular tissue than fat in your breasts, which sounds alarming but is actually somewhat common in young women-breasts tend to get fattier as you get older. But you should know there's a possibility that you might be at a higher risk for breast cancer, though researchers are still sorting this out. So don't panic, but do work with your doc to ensure you know what to look for in a breast self-exam and to design the best screening strategy for you. If you have additional risk factors (family history, say), she may suggest that you start scans pre-40; when you do begin, she might add a breast ultrasound or an MRI, as it's more difficult to detect cancer in dense breasts using mammograms.
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