All women who undergo breast cancer screening with a mammogram in the U.S. will find out if they have dense breasts — a risk factor for developing breast cancer.

On March 9, 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published updates to mammography regulations to require that clinics notify patients about the density of their breasts.

The information will also explain how breast density can influence the accuracy of mammography and recommend patients with dense breasts talk to their doctor about what it means and how it relates to their breast cancer risk.

The updated regulations must be implemented within 18 months, according to the FDA.

Many women already receive this notification because 38 states have breast density reporting laws, according to, a nonprofit dedicated to the topic. That’s thanks to grassroots efforts by patients who felt blindsided because they weren’t told their mammograms could be more difficult to interpret due to their dense breasts.

A recent study found most women may be unaware having dense breasts increases their risk of developing breast cancer.

The research, published Jan. 23 in the journal JAMA Network Open, looked at surveys and interviews with more than 2,300 women.

The study found that women believe a family history is the strongest risk factor for breast cancer, and few participants knew that having dense breasts increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Dense breasts increase one’s risk of breast cancer by one to four times, according to the study; a close family member with breast cancer increases risk by about three times, according to the American Cancer Society.

Many women surveyed also said they didn’t think they could reduce their risk of developing breast cancer, leading the researchers to conclude that “comprehensive education about breast cancer risks and prevention strategies is needed,” they wrote in the study.

Related: After Katie Couric was diagnosed with breast cancer, she chose a lumpectomy, not a mastectomy, as her treatment. What to know about breast-conserving surgery.

What does it mean if a patient has dense breasts? asked Dr. Deanna Attai, past president of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and an associate clinical professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles; and Dr. Dana Smetherman, past chair of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission and chair of radiology at Ochsner …read more



Mammogram results must let women know about their breast density, FDA mandates

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