Mammographic density, lobular involution, and risk of breast cancer

Br J Cancer. 2008 Nov 4;99(9):1369-74. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604635. Epub 2008 Sep 9.


In this review, we propose that age-related changes in mammographic density and breast tissue involution are closely related phenomena, and consider their potential relevance to the aetiology of breast cancer. We propose that the reduction in mammographic density that occurs with increasing age, parity and menopause reflects the involution of breast tissue. We further propose that age-related changes in both mammographic density and breast tissue composition are observable and measurable phenomena that resemble Pike's theoretical construct of 'breast tissue ageing'. Extensive mammographic density and delayed breast involution are both associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and are consistent with the hypothesis of the Pike model that cumulative exposure of breast tissue to hormones and growth factors that stimulate cell division, as well as the accumulation of genetic damage in breast cells, are major determinants of breast cancer incidence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Breast / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors