MEMPHIS, Tenn. - More than 10 percent of women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime.
But some of those cases are missed or hidden on a mammogram if a woman has dense breast tissue.
Cancer and dense tissue both appear white on a mammogram, making it easy for a tumor to go unnoticed.
"If you have dense tissue, sometimes it's harder to feel the lumps and bump," Tracy Schumacher, a breast cancer survivor, said.
She added that said because she has dense breast tissue, she didn't discover a lump until it was about the size of a walnut.
The CDC says nearly half of women have dense breast tissue.
That's why the FDA has put into place new rules that require mammogram providers to notify women if they have dense tissue and recommend they consult with a doctor about additional screening options.
"3-D mammogram is one option for them. Or they can have something known as ABUS, an automated breast ultrasound, which can be done to further screen and look for suspicious areas," said. Dr. Ari Giddens, an OB/GYN for Baptist Memorial Healthcare, said.
Tennessee law already requires providers alert patients of their breast density, but there's not a state law like that in Arkansas or Mississippi.
Ellé Coleman is battling cancer. She says knowing about her dense tissue may have saved her life.
"The technology and the doctors that are out there, there are so many resources out there that can save your life, which is saving my life," she said.
Dr. Giddens said the good news is more insurances are covering additional screenings such as 3-d mammograms.
If you have dense breast tissue, he recommends having a discussion with your physician about your options and how often you should have screenings done.
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