A team led by Thi Xuan Mai Tran, PhD, from Hanyang University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea, found positive associations between women with a family history of breast cancer and the presence of breast density -- as well as a trend toward increasingly dense breast tissue over time.
"Considering that regular mammographic breast cancer screening is recommended in several Asian and Western countries, our findings can be helpful in developing a tailored screening strategy for women with a family history of breast cancer who are at a higher risk of [the disease]," Tran and colleagues wrote.
Personal family history of breast cancer and mammographic breast density are both considered breast cancer risk factors. And while breast density generally decreases with age, recent research suggests that women who develop increased breast density over time are at higher risk.
Tran and colleagues sought to explore any links between a family history of breast cancer, breast density, and consecutive changes in breast density in premenopausal women. They also assessed whether these links varied with the type of first-degree relative affected, such as patient to mother or patient to sister.
The study included population-based data from 1.2 million premenopausal women between the ages of 40 and 55 that came from the National Health Insurance Service-National Health Information Database of Korea. Of, 34,003 women reported having a family history of breast cancer among first-degree relatives, while 1.1 million reported no such family history.
The researchers found that women with a family history of breast cancer had 22% higher odds of having dense breasts.
|Odds of dense breast tissue as related to family history of breast cancer
||Women with no family history of breast cancer
||Women with family history of breast cancer
|Overall odds ratio
|Mother and sister
The study authors also found that women with fatty breasts at baseline mammography who had a family history of breast cancer had 19% higher odds of developing dense breasts (odds ratio, 1.19) compared with women with no family history. Among women with dense breasts, the researchers observed higher odds of women having persistently dense breasts (odds ratio, 1.11) than women without family history.
The investigators called for more studies that would track a longer period of changes in breast density change to provide stronger evidence and support their findings. This also includes looking at continuous scales of breast density, such as the dense area and percentage of mammographic density.
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