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Mammogram Breast Density & Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Posted Nov 11 2009 12:00am
It is well known that breast tissue density as determined by mammogram is an important breast cancer risk factor.  However, it is unclear whether mammogram breast density has any impact on breast cancer recurrence.  A new study published in the journal Cancer, starts to shed some light on this potential relationship.

In this new breast cancer research, study investigators assessed the possible relationship between breast tissue density and the risk of breast cancer recurrence by examining the medical records of 335 patients who had breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) for invasive breast cancer and for whom mammogram records were available.  In addition to mammogram records, the breast cancer researchers examined tumor features, patient characteristics, and breast cancer treatments received.  For the study analysis, mammogram density was classified as either low (< 25% density), intermediate (25-50% density), or high (> 50% density).  The results of this new breast cancer research showed that patients in the high mammogram density group had a 21% chance of breast cancer recurrence over a 10-year period compared to only a 5% chance of recurrence in the low mammogram density group.  The risk of breast cancer recurrence in the high mammogram density group increased to 40% in patients that did not receive radiation therapy in addition to their breast-conserving surgery.

This is important new breast cancer research and something of which all breast cancer patients should be aware.  The results of this study further support the importance of getting a mammogram.  If this relationship between mammogram breast density and breast cancer recurrence holds up in larger clinical trials, then information on the level of breast tissue density might become an important tool for determining appropriate adjuvant therapy.  Women with high mammogram breast density might want to consider radiation therapy after surgery to further reduce their risk of breast cancer recurrence, while women with low mammogram breast density might not need radiation therapy.  This is important information to discuss with your oncologist.

In addition to performing a frequent self-examination and getting scheduled mammograms, you can reduce your breast cancer risk through simple diet and lifestyle changes.  Read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer at to learn more.
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