Breast Density Changes Linked to Breast Cancer Risk

Increasing density may be associated with higher risk; decreasing density with lower risk

FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Changes in breast density may predict a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, according to the results of a study published in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Karla Kerlikowske, M.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues collected data on 301,955 women aged 30 and older who were not receiving postmenopausal hormone therapy and had at least two mammography screenings.

The researchers found that 2,639 of the women developed breast cancer within one year of their last screening. The breast cancer rate per 1,000 women was higher in women whose American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System breast density category increased from 1 to 2 or from 1 to 3 than in women whose category remained at 1 (5.6, 9.9, and 3.0, respectively). Except for women whose initial category was 4, they also found that a decrease in breast density was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.

"The assessment, concurrently with screening mammography, of breast cancer risk based on breast density and standard risk factors creates an opportunity to discuss with the patient the risk of breast cancer in the next five years and, for those at high risk, prevention strategies," the authors write.

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