Mammographic density. Measurement of mammographic density

Breast Cancer Res. 2008;10(3):209. doi: 10.1186/bcr2102. Epub 2008 Jun 19.


Mammographic density has been strongly associated with increased risk of breast cancer. Furthermore, density is inversely correlated with the accuracy of mammography and, therefore, a measurement of density conveys information about the difficulty of detecting cancer in a mammogram. Initial methods for assessing mammographic density were entirely subjective and qualitative; however, in the past few years methods have been developed to provide more objective and quantitative density measurements. Research is now underway to create and validate techniques for volumetric measurement of density. It is also possible to measure breast density with other imaging modalities, such as ultrasound and MRI, which do not require the use of ionizing radiation and may, therefore, be more suitable for use in young women or where it is desirable to perform measurements more frequently. In this article, the techniques for measurement of density are reviewed and some consideration is given to their strengths and limitations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Calibration
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Mammography / methods*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Ultrasonics
  • X-Rays