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Changes in Breast Density May Predict Cancer Risk for Younger Women


CHICAGO - Establishing early breast density through full-digital mammography may predict breast cancer among younger women.

CHICAGO - Magnetic resonance imaging to measure breast density may help detect cancer in younger women, according to a study presented at RSNA 2013.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that younger women with extremely dense breasts consult with their physicians regarding additional screening by MRI because of their moderately increased risk of breast cancer.

"Women under age 50 are most at risk from density-associated breast cancer, and breast cancer in younger women is frequently of a more aggressive type, with larger tumors and a higher risk of recurrence," said senior author, Nicholas Perry, MBBS, director of the London Breast Institute in London, U.K.

Researchers assessed 282 women diagnosed with breast cancer and 317 healthy controls to see how risk related to change in breast density over time. All subjects underwent full-field digital mammography (FFDM) and breast density measurement using an automated volumetric system.

Researchers found that the patients with breast cancer up to age 50 had higher breast density than the healthy controls, who demonstrated a significant decline in density with age following a linear pattern. This was not seen in the women with breast cancer.

The researchers concluded that younger women are at highest risk of density-associated breast cancer and early estimation of density may be useful in offering enhanced screening to some.

"The results are interesting, because there would appear to be some form of different biological density mechanism for normal breasts compared to breasts with cancer, and this appears to be most obvious for younger women," Perry said. "This is not likely to diminish the current ACS guidelines in any way, but it might add a new facet regarding the possibility of an early mammogram to establish an obvious risk factor, which may then lead to enhanced screening for those women with the densest breasts."

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Different age-density patterns for women with breast cancer compared to normal controls.

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