Breast density and outcome of mammography screening: a cohort study

Br J Cancer. 2009 Apr 7;100(7):1205-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604989. Epub 2009 Mar 17.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of breast density on breast cancer (BC) mortality in a mammography screening programme. The cohort included 48 052 women participating in mammography screening in Copenhagen, Denmark, where biennial screening is offered to women aged 50-69 years. We collected information for the years 1991-2001 on screening outcome, incident BCs (screen-, interval-, and later detected), and BC deaths. Breast density was dichotomised into fatty (F) and mixed/dense (M/D) breasts. Screening sensitivity was measured as the odds ratio of interval versus screen-detected cancer for dense versus F breasts. Poisson regression was used to estimate the ratios for BC incidence, case fatality, and mortality between women with M/D and F breasts. For women with M/D breasts, the odds ratio of an interval cancer was 1.62 (95% confidence interval, CI, 1.14-2.30), and the age-adjusted rate ratios were 2.45 (95% CI 2.14-2.81) for BC incidence, 0.60 (95% CI 0.43-0.84) for case fatality, and 1.78 (95% CI 1.17-2.72) for BC mortality. The study shows that BC in women with M/D breasts is more frequent, but on average less severe, than in women with F breasts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mammography*
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Receptors, Estrogen / analysis


  • Receptors, Estrogen