Mammographic breast density response to aromatase inhibition

Celine M. Vachon, Vera J. Suman, Kathleen R. Brandt, Matthew L. Kosel, Aman U. Buzdar, Janet E. Olson, Fang Fang Wu, Lynn M. Flickinger, Giske Ursin, Catherine R. Elliott, Lois Shepherd, Richard M. Weinshilboum, Paul E. Goss, James N. Ingle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Purpose: Mammographic breast density (MBD) is decreased by tamoxifen, but the effect of aromatase inhibitors is less clear. Experimental Design: We enrolled early-stage postmenopausal patients with breast cancer initiating adjuvant aromatase inhibitor therapy and ascertained mammograms before and at an average 10 months of aromatase inhibitor therapy. We matched cases to healthy postmenopausal women (controls) from a large mammography screening cohort on age, baseline body mass index, baseline MBD, and interval between mammograms. We estimated change in MBD using a computer-assisted thresholding program (Cumulus) and compared differences between cases and matched controls. Results: In predominantly White women (96%), we found 14% of the 387 eligible cases had a MBD reduction of at least 5% after an average of 10 months of aromatase inhibitor therapy.MBDreductions were associated with higher baseline MBD, aromatase inhibitor use for more than 12 months, and prior postmenopausal hormone use. Comparing each case with her matched control, there was no evidence of an association of change in MBD with aromatase inhibitor therapy [median case-control difference among 369 pairs was -0.1% (10th and 90th percentile: -5.9%, 5.2%) P = 0.51]. Case-control differences were similar by type of aromatase inhibitor (P's 0.41 and 0.56); prior use of postmenopausal hormones (P = 0.85); baseline MBD (P = 0.55); and length of aromatase inhibitor therapy (P = 0.08). Conclusions: In postmenopausal women treated with aromatase inhibitors, 14% of cases had a MBD reduction of more than 5%, but these decreases did not differ from matched controls. These data suggest that MBD is not a clinically useful biomarker for predicting the value of aromatase inhibitor therapy in White postmenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2144-2153
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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