Mammographic Breast Density Is Associated With the Development of Contralateral Breast Cancer

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Women with dense mammographic breast density (BD) have a 2-fold increased risk of developing primary breast cancer (BC). The authors hypothesized that dense mammographic BD also is associated with an increased risk of developing contralateral breast cancer (CBC).


Among female patients treated at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for sporadic, AJCC stage I to stage III BC between January 1997 and December 2012, the authors identified patients who had developed metachronous CBC (cases) and selected 1:2 matched controls who did not develop CBC using incidence density sampling, matched on attainted age, year of diagnosis, and hormone receptor status of the first BC. Mammographic BD, assessed at the time of first BC diagnosis, was categorized as “nondense” (American College of Radiology breast categories of fatty or scattered density) or “dense” (American College of Radiology categories of heterogeneously dense or extremely dense). Multivariable conditional logistic regression models were used for statistical analysis.


A total of 229 cases and 451 controls were evaluated. Among the cases, approximately 39.3% had nondense breast tissue and 60.7% had dense breast tissue. Among controls, approximately 48.3% had nondense breast tissue and 51.7% had dense breast tissue. After adjustment for potential prognostic risk factors for BC, the odds of developing CBC were found to be significantly higher for patients with dense breasts (odds ratio, 1.80; 95% confidence interval, 1.22-2.64 [P<.01]) than for those with nondense breasts. Patients who received chemotherapy or endocrine therapy were less likely to develop CBC.


In women with primary BC, mammographic BD appears to be a risk factor for the development of CBC.

The relationship between breast tissue density and contralateral breast cancer remains unknown. In the current study, the authors hypothesize that patients with dense mammographic breast density at the time of breast cancer diagnosis will have an increased risk of developing metachronous contralateral breast cancer.

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