The Density Factor

Jacksonville, FL

For 40 percent of women who have dense breast tissue, mammograms may not be enough

Nancy Cappello was always diligent about eating healthy and getting her yearly mammograms.

She exercised daily and did monthly self-breast exams.

So when she got her annual mammogram and normal results in November 2003 she was elated. Until six weeks later when her doctor felt a ridge in her right breast and sent her for another mammogram and ultrasound. The mammogram, she said, again showed no concerns, but the ultrasound revealed a 2.5 cm suspicious lesion that was later determined to be Stage 3C breast cancer that metastasized to 13 lymph nodes.

She later learned she had dense breast tissue which affects about 40 percent of women and can make detecting cancer on mammograms difficult since dense tissue appears white and so does cancer.

Cappello, an award-winning breast cancer advocate and legislative activist, will share her story on May 17 at the Sisisky-Kleppinger Annual Endowed Lecture for Women’s Health. The free event is 5:15 to 7:45 p.m. with the cocktail reception from 5:15 to 6 p.m. at WJCT, 100 Festival Park Ave. Physicians from Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center will also be available to answer questions.

Cappello, who has a PhD in education administration, is director and founder of Are You Dense, Inc., and Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc., which educates to the public about the risks and screening challenges of dense breast tissue. Her breast cancer experience is changing laws and lives. She was the inspiration behind Connecticut’s first-in-the-nation density reporting law passed in 2009, making the state a global leader in density reporting, adjunct screening, and the density reporting grassroots movement. More than half the states have since enacted density reporting laws.

To register for the event, please visit