Inclusion of Plasma Prolactin Levels in Current Risk Prediction Models of Premenopausal and Postmenopausal Breast Cancer

JNCI Cancer Spectr. 2018 Dec 4;2(4):pky055. doi: 10.1093/jncics/pky055. eCollection 2018 Oct.


Background: Circulating plasma prolactin is associated with breast cancer risk and may improve our ability to identify high-risk women. Mammographic density is a strong risk factor for breast cancer, but the association with prolactin is unclear. We studied the association between breast cancer, established breast cancer risk factors and plasma prolactin, and improvement of risk prediction by adding prolactin.

Methods: We conducted a nested case-control study including 721 breast cancer patients and 1400 age-matched controls. Plasma prolactin levels were assayed using immunoassay and mammographic density measured by STRATUS. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated by multivariable adjusted logistic regression, and improvement in the area under the curve for the risk of breast cancer by adding prolactin to established risk models. Statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: In multivariable adjusted analyses, prolactin was associated with risk of premenopausal (OR, top vs bottom quintile = 1.9; 1.88 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.08 to 3.26) but not with postmenopausal breast cancer. In postmenopausal cases prolactin increased by 10.6% per cBIRADS category (P trend = .03). In combined analyses of prolactin and mammographic density, ORs for women in the highest vs lowest tertile of both was 3.2 (95% CI = 1.3 to 7.7) for premenopausal women and 2.44 (95% CI = 1.44 to 4.14) for postmenopausal women. Adding prolactin to current risk models improved the area under the curve of the Gail model (+2.4 units, P = .02), Tyrer-Cuzick model (+3.8, P = .02), and the CAD2Y model (+1.7, P = .008) in premenopausal women.

Conclusion: Circulating plasma prolactin and mammographic density appear independently associated with breast cancer risk among premenopausal women, and prolactin may improve risk prediction by current risk models.