The Relationship Between Breast Density Change During Menopause and the Risk of Breast Cancer in Korean Women

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2021 Dec;14(12):1119-1128. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-20-0542. Epub 2021 Sep 10.


Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between changes in breast density during menopause and breast cancer risk.

Methods: This study was a retrospective, longitudinal cohort study for women over 30 years of age who had undergone breast mammography serially at baseline and postmenopause during regular health checkups at Samsung Medical Center. None of the participants had been diagnosed with breast cancer at baseline. Mammographic breast density was measured using the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System.

Results: During 18,615 person-years of follow-up (median follow-up 4.8 years; interquartile range 2.8-7.5 years), 45 participants were diagnosed with breast cancer. The prevalence of dense breasts was higher in those who were younger, underweight, had low parity or using contraceptives. The cumulative incidence of breast cancer increased 4 years after menopause in participants, and the consistently extremely dense group had a significantly higher cumulative incidence (CI) of breast cancer compared with other groups [CI of extremely dense vs. others (incidence rate per 100,000 person-years): 375 vs. 203, P < 0.01].

Conclusion: Korean women whose breast density was extremely dense before menopause and who maintained this density after menopause were at two-fold greater risk of breast cancer.

Prevention relevance: Extremely dense breast density that is maintained persistently from premenopause to postmenopause increases risk of breast cancer two fold in Korean women. Therefore, women having risk factors should receive mammography frequently and if persistently extremely dense breast had been detected, additional modalities of BC screening could be considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Density*
  • Breast Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mammography / methods
  • Menopause
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors