RSNA: Importance of Breast Density in Cancer Risk Questioned

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RSNA: Importance of Breast Density in Cancer Risk Questioned
RSNA: Importance of Breast Density in Cancer Risk Questioned

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 2, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Breast density is considered by many an independent risk factor for breast cancer. But new research from Croatia suggests it might not be that critical after all. The findings were scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4 in Chicago.

Researchers evaluated thousands of mammogram reports in Croatia and found no substantial difference in breast density between 230 women diagnosed with breast cancer and those who weren't. Just a small number of the women with breast cancer had very dense breast tissue, the researchers found.

"The findings do not apply to U.S. women," Debra Monticciolo, M.D., chair of the American College of Radiology Commission on Breast Imaging, told HealthDay. She said the study researchers grouped women into four categories of breast density, but "the percent of women in each category is markedly different from what we see in the United States, so it makes it hard to apply to women in the United States."

The women screened for this study were between ages 50 and 69 and seen at five facilities in Croatia. The researchers found that about half of the 230 women diagnosed with cancer were from the group with the least dense breasts. Slightly less than 3 percent were in the highest density group. In the United States, said Monticciolo, about 50 percent of women have breasts categorized as dense or very dense. In the new study, no more than 17 percent did.

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