Digital volumetric measurement of mammographic density and the risk of overlooking cancer in Japanese women

Breast Cancer. 2017 Sep;24(5):708-713. doi: 10.1007/s12282-017-0763-2. Epub 2017 Feb 25.


Background: Breast density often affects cancer detection via mammography (MMG). Because of this, additional tests are recommended for women with dense breasts. This study aimed to reveal trends in breast density among Japanese women and determine whether differences in breast density differentially affected the detection of abnormalities via MMG.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 397 control women who underwent MMG screening as well as 269 patients who underwent surgery for breast cancer for whom preoperative MMG data were available. VolparaDensityâ„¢ (Volpara), a three-dimensional image analysis software with high reproducibility, was used to calculate breast density. Breasts were categorized according to the volumetric density grade (VDG), a measure of the percentage of dense tissue. The associations between age, VDG, and MMG density categories were analyzed.

Results: In the control group, 78% of women had dense breasts, while in the breast cancer group, 87% of patients had dense breasts. One of 36 patients with non-dense breasts (2.7%) was classified as category 1 or 2 (C-1 or C-2), indicating that abnormal findings could not be detected by MMG. The proportion of patients with breast cancer who had dense breasts and were classified as C-1 or C-2 was as high as 22.3%.

Conclusions: The proportions of Japanese women with dense breasts were high. In addition, the false-negative rate for women with dense breasts was also high. Owing to this, Japanese women with dense breasts may need to commonly undergo additional tests to ensure detection of breast cancer in the screening MMG.

Keywords: Dense breast; Volpara density grade.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Density
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Early Detection of Cancer / adverse effects
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • False Negative Reactions
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / adverse effects*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Japan
  • Mammography / adverse effects*
  • Mass Screening / adverse effects
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies