Breast Cancer Patients with Dense Breast Tissue More Likely to Develop Contralateral Disease


“Breast cancer patients with dense breast tissue have almost a two-fold increased risk of developing disease in the contralateral breast, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer.

“The study, published in the journal Cancer, is among the first to find the association between breast density (BD) and contralateral breast cancer (CBC).

“According to study author Isabelle Bedrosian, M.D., a big challenge in the management of this patient population, especially as they are making surgical decisions, is trying to counsel women appropriately on their risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast.”

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Notifications About Dense Breasts Can Be Hard to Interpret


“About 40 percent of women who have mammograms are found to have dense breast tissue, a normal finding that can make it harder to detect cancer. But many of these women receive letters in the mail about the finding that can be hard to decipher, a new study found.

“ ‘Twenty percent of the population only reads at an eighth-grade level, and many more don’t read at a much higher level than that,’ said Nancy R. Kressin, one of the study’s authors who is a professor at Boston University School of Medicine and a senior researcher at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System.

“ ‘For many women, these notifications are not going to be easy to read’ and might even be alarming, she said. ‘We’ve talked to some women who received these letters, and their reaction was “Oh my God, I have cancer.” ‘ ”

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Interval Cancers Are More Aggressive in Non-dense Breasts

The gist: Some patients’ breast cancer isn’t detected in a mammogram, but found one year later (interval cancer). New research shows that interval breast cancer patients with non-dense breasts have more aggressive tumors than interval patients with dense breasts. They also have more aggressive tumors than women with non-dense breasts whose cancer was found by mammography.

“In a Swedish study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Holm et al found that interval cancers in women with low mammographic density breasts were more aggressive vs screen-detected cancers in these women and vs interval cancers in women with dense breasts. Use of hormone replacement therapy and family history of breast cancer were associated with increased risk of interval cancers.

“The study involved data on tumor characteristics (n = 4,091) and mammographic density (n = 1,957) from women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer from 2001 to 2008 in Stockholm…

“The investigators concluded: ‘Interval breast cancers in women with low mammographic density have the most aggressive phenotype. The effect of [hormone replacement therapy] on interval breast cancer risk is not fully explained by mammographic density. Family history is associated with interval breast cancers, possibly indicating disparate genetic background of screen-detected breast cancers and interval breast cancers.’ ”