KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Food and Drug Administration is issuing new mammogram guidelines to help detect breast cancer.

Mammogram centers will now be required to tell patients about their breast density, which can sometimes make cancer harder to spot.

Women with dense tissue are at a higher risk of breast cancer.

It is already a requirement in Missouri, Kansas, and 36 other states. Now every woman in the country will know if she has dense breast tissue after getting a mammogram.’

“Dense breast tissue does two things,” Dr. Linda Harrison, Radiologist with Dynamic Imaging Center, said. “First of all, it makes it harder for us to find cancers on a mammogram. A breast cancer is typically a white pattern and if you have a lot of dense breast tissue, which is something you can only see on a mammogram, your breast is mostly white. So again, it’s going to be looking like trying to find a snowflake on a pattern of a blizzard.”

Dense breast tissue shows up as white on a mammogram. Cancer shows up white as well.

“Those women with the densest breast, those that look almost white on the mammogram, those have may be 2 times higher breast cancer incidence than those that have mostly fatty breast issue,” Dr. Harrison said. “And those that are mostly dense not quite as dense, they also have a 1.5 times higher risk of breast cancer.”

Dr. Harrison said patients will know how often they need a mammogram if they have dense breast tissue or what steps to take, but it varies case by case

“You’ll know should I just be doing annual screened mammograms starting at 40 or do I need something additional or should I start earlier, do I need more intensive surveillance to detect breast cancer at its earliest form when its most treatable,” said Dr. Harrison.

As always check with your doctor and report any changes in breast health.