NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, physicians across Connecticut are educating the public on the importance of regular breast screenings and self-exams.

One condition that requires extra screening methods is dense breasts.

“If you have dense breast tissue that can actually be an independent risk factor for developing breast cancer. When we compare those who have the most dense tissue on mammograms to the least it does actually account for increased risk,” says Dr. Laura Sheiman, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at Yale School of Medicine.

Doctor Laura Sheiman says mammograms should be combined with other tests like MRIs and ultrasounds on dense breasts.

She says that breast density appears on a mammogram as ‘white matter’ which can also be the color of irregularities like cancer.

“That dense breast tissue can have a masking effect and limit our ability to see small cancers on the mammogram,” says Dr. Sheiman.

Doctor Sheiman recommends that most women start breast screenings at the age of 40, combined with self-exams.