Current Breast Cancer Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 161–168 | Cite as

The Impact of Breast Density on Breast Cancer Risk and Breast Screening

  • Nehmat Houssami
  • Karla Kerlikowske
Local-Regional Evaluation and Therapy (KK Hunt, Section Editor)


Whether measured by qualitative assessment of the parenchyma pattern or quantitatively by percent mammographic density, breast density is consistently a strong and independent risk factor for breast cancer (BC). Density is also a relatively common risk factor, and therefore an important contributor to BC risk at a population level. Including density (with other risk factors) in risk prediction models improves predictive accuracy; however, better standardization and/or automation of density measures will make the integration of breast density into risk assessment, and its application in tailored screening and primary prevention, more feasible. High breast density reduces screening sensitivity and is associated with risk of interval BC in screening; it is also associated with cancers that have poorer prognostic features. Non-randomized studies of adjunct ultrasound screening in women with mammography-negative dense breasts have provided evidence on incremental detection of BC with adjunct ultrasound and high false-positives but have not examined impact on clinical end-points, mortality, or balance of potential benefits versus harms.


Breast density Interval cancer Risk assessment Mammography Population screening Ultrasound 



No conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.


Papers of particular interest published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Screening and Test Evaluation Program, School of Public Health (A27), Sydney Medical SchoolUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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