AIM: Breast density is a risk factor for breast cancer. As density changes across a woman's life span, we studied for how long a single density measurement taken in (post-)menopausal women remains informative.
METHODS: We used data from Singaporean women who underwent a single mammography screen at age 50-64 years. For each case with breast cancer diagnosed at screening or in the subsequent 10 years, whether screen detected or diagnosed following symptoms, two age-matched controls were selected. We studied the excess risk of breast cancer, calculated as an odds ratio (OR) with conditional logistic regression and adjusted for body mass index, associated with 26-50% and with 51-100% density compared with ≤25% density by time since screening.
RESULTS: In total, 490 women had breast cancer, of which 361 were diagnosed because of symptoms after screening. Women with 51-100% breast density had an excess risk of breast cancer that did not seem to attenuate with time. In 1-3 years after screening, the OR was 2.22 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.07-4.61); in 4-6 years after screening, the OR was 4.09 (95% CI: 2.21-7.58), and in 7-10 years after screening, the OR was 5.35 (95% CI: 2.57-11.15). Excess risk with a stable OR of about 2 was also observed for women with 26-50% breast density. These patterns were robust when the analyses were limited to post-menopausal women, non-users of hormonal replacement therapy and after stratification by age at density measurement.
CONCLUSION: A single breast density measurement identifies women with an excess risk of breast cancer during at least the subsequent 10 years.