Dear Dr. Gott: I recently had a mammogram that, fortunately, was negative; the report, however, revealed I have dense, fibroglandular breasts bilaterally. Can you tell me what this means and if the report really revealed benign findings?
Dear reader: A mammogram is a film that can be compared to black-and-white photographic negatives. When a radiologist “reads” the negative, densities will appear more white than gray in color. This is an important finding because breast masses may be more difficult to detect within the dense tissue. Younger women tend to have more dense breast tissue than do older women. Two-thirds of premenopausal women and one-quarter of postmenopausal women have dense breasts. This simply reflects the amount of fibroglandular tissue in the breast relative to the amount of fatty tissue found. Dense breasts are not necessarily an indication of fibrocystic disease. There are a number of possible reasons for the density, including genetic factors, weight loss or gain, the use of hormones, radiation therapy and the aging process.
When writing up the report, a radiologist should indicate whether the findings demonstrate heterogeneous or dense tissue based on a system established by the American College of Radiology known as BIRADS (Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System). BIRADS fall into four categories, ranging from almost entirely fatty to extremely dense. Another BIRADS scale characterizes findings actually seen on mammography with five possibilities – from negative to being highly suspicious of malignancy. According to www.areyoudense.org, a woman with dense breast tissue cannot rely solely on the BIRADS scales to determine findings of breast cancer.
You do not indicate your age. If the density is a new occurrence, return to your primary-care physician or gynecologist for a discussion. He or she might follow up with an ultrasound or MRI, or may believe there is no follow-up necessary beyond self-exam and timely mammography.
Dear Dr. Gott: I have discovered another use for mentholated chest rubs. The fire ant is one of the banes of Florida, and I have tried all of the local remedies from ammonia to meat tenderizer.
I was recently bitten again, and all I had on hand was a chest rub to apply. It stopped the itching in minutes and allowed the wound to heal without a scar. Before, the bites itched for days and left dark scars.
If it works as well for others as it does for me, it could make outdoor life more pleasant for Floridians and other states plagued by this insect.
Dear reader: I’m certain many people in your state have hoped for an antidote to fire ants, so I am gladly publishing your experience for general interest. Thank you for writing.
To provide related information on other successful findings, I am sending you a copy of my Health Reports “Compelling Home Remedies” and “More Compelling Home Remedies.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a check or money order for $2 for each report to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title(s).