Impact of short-term low-dose tamoxifen on molecular breast imaging background parenchymal uptake: A pilot study

Carrie B. Hruska, Katie N. Hunt, Amy Lynn Conners, Jennifer R. Geske, Kathleen R. Brandt, Amy C. Degnim, Celine M. Vachon, Michael K. O'Connor, Deborah J. Rhodes

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4 Scopus citations


Background: High background parenchymal uptake (BPU) on molecular breast imaging (MBI) has been identified as a breast cancer risk factor. We explored the feasibility of offering a short-term intervention of low-dose oral tamoxifen to women with high BPU and examined whether this intervention would reduce BPU. Methods: Women with a history of high BPU and no breast cancer history were invited to the study. Participants had an MBI exam, followed by 30 days of low-dose oral tamoxifen at either 5 mg or 10 mg/day, and a post-tamoxifen MBI exam. BPU on pre- A nd post-tamoxifen MBI exams was quantitatively assessed as the ratio of average counts in breast fibroglandular tissue vs. average counts in subcutaneous fat. Pre-tamoxifen and post-tamoxifen BPU were compared with paired t tests. Results: Of 47 women invited, 22 enrolled and 21 completed the study (10 taking 5 mg tamoxifen, 11 taking 10 mg tamoxifen). Mean age was 47.7 years (range 41-56 years). After 30 days low-dose tamoxifen, 8 of 21 women (38%) showed a decline in BPU, defined as a decrease from the pre-tamoxifen MBI of at least 15%; 11 of 21 (52%) had no change in BPU (within ± 15%); 2 of 21 (10%) had an increase in BPU of greater than 15%. Overall, the average post-tamoxifen BPU was not significantly different from pre-tamoxifen BPU (1.34 post vs. 1.43 pre, p = 0.11). However, among women taking 10 mg tamoxifen, 5 of 11 (45%) showed a decline in BPU; average BPU was 1.19 post-tamoxifen vs. 1.34 pre-tamoxifen (p = 0.005). In women taking 5 mg tamoxifen, 2 of 10 (20%) showed a decline in BPU; average BPU was 1.51 post-tamoxifen vs.1.53 pre-tamoxifen (p = 0.99). Conclusions: Short-term intervention with low-dose tamoxifen may reduce high BPU on MBI for some patients. Our preliminary findings suggest that 10 mg tamoxifen per day may be more effective than 5 mg for inducing declines in BPU within 30 days. Given the variability in BPU response to tamoxifen observed among study participants, future study is warranted to determine if BPU response could predict the effectiveness of tamoxifen for breast cancer risk reduction within an individual. Trial registration: NCT02979301. Registered 01 December 2016.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number38
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 8 2019


  • Background parenchymal uptake
  • Molecular breast imaging
  • Tamoxifen
  • Tc-99m sestamibi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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