Changes in mammographic density and risk of breast cancer among a diverse cohort of women undergoing mammography screening

Aimilia Gastounioti, Eric A. Cohen, Lauren Pantalone, Sarah Ehsan, Sanjana Vasudevan, Avinash Kurudi, Emily F. Conant, Jinbo Chen, Despina Kontos, Anne Marie McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Mammographic density (MD) is a strong breast cancer risk factor. MD may change over time, with potential implications for breast cancer risk. Few studies have assessed associations between MD change and breast cancer in racially diverse populations. We investigated the relationships between MD and MD change over time and breast cancer risk in a large, diverse screening cohort. Materials and methods: We retrospectively analyzed data from 8462 women who underwent ≥ 2 screening mammograms from Sept. 2010 to Jan. 2015 (N = 20,766 exams); 185 breast cancers were diagnosed 1–7 years after screening. Breast percent density (PD) and dense area (DA) were estimated from raw digital mammograms (Hologic Inc.) using LIBRA (v1.0.4). For each MD measure, we modeled breast density change between two sequential visits as a function of demographic and risk covariates. We used Cox regression to examine whether varying degrees of breast density change were associated with breast cancer risk, accounting for multiple exams per woman. Results: PD at any screen was significantly associated with breast cancer risk (hazard ratio (HR) for PD = 1.03 (95% CI [1.01, 1.05], p < 0.0005), but neither change in breast density nor more extreme than expected changes in breast density were associated with breast cancer risk. We found no evidence of differences in density change or breast cancer risk due to density change by race. Results using DA were essentially identical. Conclusions: Using a large racially diverse cohort, we found no evidence of association between short-term change in MD and risk of breast cancer, suggesting that short-term MD change is not a strong predictor for risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-544
Number of pages10
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast density
  • Cancer screening
  • Mammography


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