High volumetric breast density predicts risk for breast cancer in postmenopausal, but not premenopausal, Korean Women

Ann Surg Oncol. 2014 Dec;21(13):4124-32. doi: 10.1245/s10434-014-3832-1. Epub 2014 Jun 17.


Purpose: We investigated the association between mammographic breast density and breast cancer risk in Korean women according to menopausal status and breast cancer subtypes.

Methods: We enrolled 677 patients diagnosed with breast cancer and 1,307 healthy controls who participated in screening mammography at the National Cancer Center. Breast density was estimated using volumetric breast composition measurement.

Results: Of the total population, 1,156 (58.3 %) women were postmenopausal. The risk of breast cancer increased progressively with the increment of volumetric density grade (VDG) in postmenopausal women (p < 0.001). High breast density (VDG 4) was significantly associated with breast cancer compared with low breast density (VDG 1/2) regardless of body mass index. However, the association with parity and history of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was only found in those with ≥2 children and those not receiving HRT. Breast density was positively associated with breast cancer risk regardless of histologic grade, tumor size, lymph node involvement, Ki67 index, and hormone receptor status. The association was more prominent in human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive tumors (VDG 1/2 vs. VDG 4 for HER2 normal, odds ratio [OR] 2.21, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 1.28-3.83, p < 0.001; for HER2 positive, OR 8.63, 95 % CI 3.26-22.83, p = 0.001; P heterogeneity = 0.030). However, no significant association was found between breast density and breast cancer risk in premenopausal women except for those with large-sized tumors (>2 cm) and a Ki67 index >15 %.

Conclusion: High volumetric breast density is significantly associated with the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women; however, these relationships were not found in premenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Density
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human / abnormalities*
  • Mammography*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Premenopause*
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires