Can breast size affect a mammogram?

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The size of a woman’s breast does not affect the ability of the mammogram equipment to get a good picture. However, breast size may impact a woman’s comfort during the imaging. A large breast may require multiple pictures in order to view the entire gland, while a small breast may require challenging positioning in order to get the entire gland within the viewfinder.

Breast density does affect a mammogram. The greater the density of breast tissue, the harder it is for a mammogram to find abnormalities. Some doctors compare this to looking for a snowball in a snowstorm, or looking for the sun in a cloudy sky. Denser breast tissue may be best served by 3D mammography (also known as tomosynthesis) and/or breast ultrasound. Sometimes, breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is recommended.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Dr. Kathleen V. Greatrex, MD
Diagnostic Radiologist

No. Your technologist is trained to make sure that all of the breast tissue gets on the film. Breast size shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Administration Specialist

A skilled technologist knows how to image breasts of all shapes and sizes, although more images may sometimes be necessary to completely evaluate women with very large breasts. If a woman's breast is too large to be imaged on a single sheet of film, the area not included in the first picture is positioned and imaged on an additional film. Conversely, small breast size does not prevent a woman from obtaining an adequate mammogram, given that we occasionally image the male breast in the same machines.

The density of your breast tissue, not the size of your breasts, determines what is visible on your mammogram. This is why physical examinations are an important part of your breast health screening program, especially before menopause. Most women's breasts become less dense after menopause, so abnormalities are more readily visible on mammograms.

Dr. Jaspreet Kaur, DO
Family Practitioner

Breast size can definitely affect a mammogram. If a woman has denser breast tissue, it can be very hard to get a successful mammogram. Sometimes the radiologist will do a screening mammogram and then change it to a diagnostic mammogram so that they have a better view of the breast tissue.

Trinity Health recognizes that people seek medical information on a variety of topics for a variety of reasons. Trinity Health does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. As a Catholic health care organization, Trinity Health acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition.

Please note, the information contained on this website is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider if you have questions regarding your medical condition or before starting any new treatment. In the event of a medical emergency always call 911 or proceed to your nearest emergency care facility.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.