Mammographic density and histopathologic characteristics of screen-detected tumors in the Norwegian Breast Cancer Screening Program


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Background: High mammographic density might mask breast tumors, resulting in delayed diagnosis or missed cancers. Purpose: To investigate the association between mammographic density and histopathologic tumor characteristics (histologic type, size, grade, and lymph node status) among women screened in the Norwegian Breast Cancer Screening Program. Material and Methods: Information about 1760 screen-detected ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and 7366 invasive breast cancers diagnosed among women aged 50–69 years, 1996–2010, was analyzed. The screening mammograms were classified subjectively according to the amount of fibroglandular tissue into fatty, medium dense, and dense by breast radiologists. Chi-square test was used to compare the distribution of tumor characteristics by mammographic density. Odds ratio (OR) of tumor characteristics by density was estimated by means of logistic regression, adjusting for screening mode (screen-film and full-field digital mammography), and age. Results: Mean and median tumor size of invasive breast cancers was 13.8 and 12 mm, respectively, for women with fatty breasts, and 16.2 and 14 mm for those with dense breasts. Lymph node positive tumors were identified among 20.6% of women with fatty breasts compared with 27.2% of those with dense breasts ( P < 0.001). The proportion of DCIS was significantly lower for women with fatty (15.8%) compared with dense breasts (22.0%). Women with dense breasts had an increased risk of large (OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.18–1.73) and lymph node positive tumors (OR, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.05–1.51) compared with women with fatty and medium dense breasts. Conclusion: High mammographic density was positively associated with tumor size and lymph node positive tumors.



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