3D Mammography for Dense Breasts

Niki Olson, RT(R)(M)(CT), is the Mammography Coordinator and Lead CT Technologist at Upland Hills Health. She is registered in Mammography, CT and Xray and has been part of the Upland Hills Health Imaging Department for more than 25 years.



Having dense breasts means that your breast tissue is comprised of more dense than non-dense (fatty) tissue. 1 in 10 women have dense breast tissue. It varies by age and weight, and it is more common in younger, thin women, but it is quite common. Dense breast tissue is harder to see through on a mammogram. Levels of density can be described on the following scale:

  • A: Almost entirely fatty indicates that the breasts are almost entirely composed of fat. About 1 in 10 women has this result.
  • B: Scattered areas of fibroglandular density indicates there are some scattered areas of density, but the
  • majority of the breast tissue is nondense. About 4 in 10 women have this result.
  • C: Heterogeneously dense indicates that there are some areas of nondense tissue, but that the majority of the breast tissue is dense. About 4 in 10 women have this result.
  • D: Extremely dense indicates that nearly all of the breast tissue is dense. About 1 in 10 women has this result.


All women, especially those with dense breasts, should do breast self-exams. Dense breast tissue can make it difficult to feel a lump or a change but if you consistently do self breast exams you are able to better differentiate between what feels normal in your breast and what does not.

It is highly recommended that women with dense breast tissue have a 3D Digital Mammogram. Having dense breast tissue allows for anomalies to be hidden and 3D gives a much better image because the x-ray passes through the breast tissue at several different angles, top to bottom and side to side, allowing better visualization. Having a 3D mammogram done allows for earlier detection of abnormalities, including cancer, especially in women with dense breasts.

Talk to your doctor about scheduling your mammogram. Many hospitals, including Upland Hills Health, offer convenient hours and payment options for women without health insurance.

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