More Evidence Links Dense Breasts to Later Cancer

Mammographic density may predict second cancer risk in ductal carcinoma in situ patients
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and mammographically dense breasts may have an increased risk of subsequent breast cancer, particularly in the opposite breast, according to research published in the October issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Laurel A. Habel, Ph.D., of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues analyzed data from 935 patients with DCIS who were treated with breast-conserving surgery. The researchers reviewed density on ipsilateral mammograms from the index DCIS, and patients were followed for a median 103 months.

The researchers found that 18 percent of patients had a subsequent breast cancer in the same breast and 6 percent had a new primary cancer in the opposite breast. Those with the upper 20 percent of total area of density had higher risk of invasive disease in either breast (hazard ratio, 2.1) than patients in the bottom 20 percent, as well as higher risk of any cancer in the same or opposite breast (hazard ratios, 1.7 and 3.0, respectively).

"Together with the findings from two other reports, our study results suggest that mammographic density assessment at diagnosis may aid in the prediction of risk for second cancers among women with DCIS. This information may be important to patients and doctors when making treatment decisions, especially given recent data suggesting increasing rates of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy in DCIS patients," the authors conclude.

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