Relationship of terminal duct lobular unit involution of the breast with area and volume mammographic densities

Gretchen L. Gierach, Deesha A. Patel, Ruth M. Pfeiffer, Jonine D. Figueroa, Laura Linville, Daphne Papathomas, Jason M. Johnson, Rachael E. Chicoine, Sally D. Herschorn, John A. Shepherd, Jeff Wang, Serghei Malkov, Pamela M. Vacek, Donald L. Weaver, Bo Fan, Amir Pasha Mahmoudzadeh, Maya Palakal, Jackie Xiang, Hannah Oh, Hisani N. HorneBrian L. Sprague, Stephen M. Hewitt, Louise A. Brinton, Mark E. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Elevated mammographic density (MD) is an established breast cancer risk factor. Reduced involution of terminal duct lobular units (TDLU), the histologic source of most breast cancers, has been associated with higher MD and breast cancer risk. We investigated relationships of TDLU involution with area and volumetric MD, measured throughout the breast and surrounding biopsy targets (perilesional). Three measures inversely related to TDLU involution (TDLU count/mm2, median TDLU span, median acini count/TDLU) assessed in benign diagnostic biopsies from 348 women, ages 40â€"65, were related to MD area (quantified with thresholding software) and volume (assessed with a density phantom) by analysis of covariance, stratified by menopausal status and adjusted for confounders. Among premenopausal women, TDLU count was directly associated with percent perilesional MD (P trend  0.03), but not with absolute dense area/volume. Greater TDLU span was associated with elevated percent dense area/volume (P trend<0.05) and absolute perilesionalMD (P  0.003). Acini count was directly associated with absolute perilesional MD (P  0.02). Greater TDLU involution (all metrics) was associated with increased nondense area/volume (P trend 0.04). Among postmenopausal women, TDLU measures were not significantly associated with MD. Among premenopausal women, reduced TDLU involution was associated with higher area and volumetric MD, particularly in perilesional parenchyma. Data indicating that TDLU involution and MD are correlated markers of breast cancer risk suggest that associations of MD with breast cancer may partly reflect amounts of at-risk epithelium. If confirmed, these results could suggest a prevention paradigm based on enhancing TDLU involution and monitoring efficacy by assessing MD reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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