Assessing Biomarkers of Breast Cancer Risk in Underserved Women in a Midwestern County

Marla A. DeWitt, Ivana T. Croghan, Celine M. Vachon, Thomas D. Thacher, Marcia R. Venegas Pont, Lonzetta Neal, Daniela L. Stan, Sarah M. Jenkins, Sandhya Pruthi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of collecting risk factor information and accessing digitized mammographic data in a medically marginalized population. A secondary aim was to examine the association between vitamin D status and mammographic density. Methods: Breast-screening examinations were provided for age-appropriate patients, and a referral for no-cost screening mammography was offered. Study participants were asked to undergo 25-hydroxyvitamin D testing at mammography and 1-year follow-up. Results: Of 62 women approached, 35 (56%) consented to participate. Of 32 participants who had baseline mammography, the median mammographic density measured by VolparaDensity (Volpara Solutions Limited) was 5.7%. After 1 year, 9 women obtained follow-up mammograms, with a median density of 5.7%. Vitamin D status was measured for 31 participants at baseline and 13 participants in the following year. Insufficient vitamin D status (<30 ng/mL) was noted in 77% at each time point. Mammographic density was not significantly correlated with vitamin D status (P =.06). Conclusions: On the basis of this small pilot study, vitamin D insufficiency is common in this study population. Owing to the small sample size, an association between vitamin D insufficiency and breast density was not clear. Additional unexpected findings included substantial barriers in initial access to care and longitudinal follow-up in this population. Further study of these issues is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
StatePublished - 2021


  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • breast cancer
  • mammographic breast density
  • mammography
  • patients
  • underserved
  • vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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