Longitudinal trends in mammographic percent density and breast cancer risk

Celine M. Vachon, V. Shane Pankratz, Christopher G. Scott, Shaun D. Maloney, Karthik Ghosh, Kathleen R. Brandt, Tia Milanese, Michael J. Carston, Thomas A. Sellers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Background: Mammographic density is a strong risk factor for breast cancer. However, whether changes in mammographic density are associated with risk remains unclear. Materials and Methods: A study of 372 incident breast cancer cases and 713 matched controls was conducted within the Mayo Clinic mammography screening practice. Controls were matched on age, exam date, residence, menopause, interval between, and number of mammograms. All serial craniocaudal mammograms 10 years before ascertainment were digitized, and quantitative measures of percent density (PD) were estimated using a thresholding method. Data on potential confounders were abstracted from medical records. Logistic regression models with generalized estimating equations were used to evaluate the interactions among PD at earliest mammogram, time from earliest to each serial mammogram, and absolute change in PD between the earliest and subsequent mammograms. Analyses were done separately for PD measures from the ipsilateral and contralateral breast and also by use of hormone therapy (HT). Results: Subjects had an average of five mammograms available, were primarily postmenopausal (83%), and averaged 61 years at the earliest mammogram. Mean PD at earliest mammogram was higher for cases (31%) than controls (27%; ipsilateral side). There was no evidence of an association between change in PD and breast cancer risk by time. Compared with no change, an overall reduction of 10% PD (lowest quartile of change) was associated with an odds ratio of 0.9997 and an increase of 6.5% PD (highest quartile of change) with an odds ratio of 1.002. The same results held within the group of 220 cases and 340 controls never using HT. Among the 124 cases and 337 controls known to use HT during the interval, there was a statistically significant interaction between change in PD and time since the earliest mammogram (P = 0.01). However, in all groups, the risk associated with the earliest PD remained a stronger predictor of risk than change in PD. Conclusion: We observed no association between change in PD with breast cancer risk among all women and those never using HT. However, the interaction between change in PD and time should be evaluated in other populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)921-928
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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