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AACR: Breast Density Strong Predictor of Breast Cancer Risk

One study links reductions in breast density to reduced risk for breast cancer

WEDNESDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Breast density appears to be a strong biomarker of breast cancer risk, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from April 17 to 21 in Washington, D.C., with breast density research the focus of the following three studies.

In one study, Celine M. Vachon, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues evaluated 19,924 women 35 years and older who had never had breast cancer and had a mammogram between 2003 and 2006. They performed longitudinal analyses on the 219 breast cancer cases and 1,900 cancer-free cases representing a random sample of the cohort. The researchers found that, over a six-year period, women who had a decrease of at least one category in breast density had a 28 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than those whose breast density was unchanged. However, women who had an increase of one or more density categories had suggestion of increased risk.

In a case-control study conducted within the Women's Health Initiative, Celia Byrne, Ph.D., of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues found that mammographic density changes may be a useful intermediate marker to explain the increased breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women using estrogen and progestin therapy. In a third study, Gertraud Maskarinec, M.D., of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, and colleagues showed that measuring breast density using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) may serve as a low-radiation option to evaluate breast density for women who do not undergo mammography.

"This may allow improved individualized risk assessment to identify women for targeted prevention strategies," Maskarinec and colleagues wrote.

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