Adjuvant Therapy and Mammographic Density Changes in Women With Breast Cancer

JNCI Cancer Spectr. 2019 Jan 29;2(4):pky071. doi: 10.1093/jncics/pky071. eCollection 2018 Oct.


Background: Tamoxifen decreases mammographic density. Whether compliance affects this relationship is unclear as is the relationship between other types of adjuvant treatment and changes in mammographic density.

Methods: This prospective cohort study included 2490 women diagnosed with breast cancer during 2001-2015 in Sweden. Mammographic density was assessed within 3 months of diagnosis and 6-36 months post diagnosis. Logistic regression was performed to study the association between each respective adjuvant treatment and mammographic density reduction (annual dense area decrease >15%).

Results: Intention-to-treat analyses using treatment information from the regional cancer registries showed that tamoxifen-treated patients more frequently experienced mammographic density reductions compared with nontreated patients (odds ratio [OR] = 1.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.25 to 1.99), as did chemotherapy-treated patients (OR = 1.28, 95% CI = 1.06 to 1.54). For chemotherapy, the association was mainly seen in premenopausal women. Neither aromatase inhibitors nor radiotherapy was associated with density change. Tamoxifen use based on prescription and dispensation data from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register showed that users were more likely to have density reductions compared with nonusers (adjusted OR = 2.24, 95% CI = 1.40 to 3.59). Moreover, among tamoxifen users, tamoxifen continuers were more likely than discontinuers to experience density reductions (adjusted OR = 1.50, 95% CI = 1.04 to 2.17).

Conclusions: Our results indicate that adherence influences the association between tamoxifen and mammographic density reduction. We further found that chemotherapy was associated with density reductions and propose that this is largely secondary to chemotherapy-induced ovarian failure.

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