Breast cancer and the density of breast tissue have been in the news recently. According to recent online news story a new study that will be featured in the August 20 addition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute discovered that the risk of mortality from breast cancer is not linked to the high mammographic breast density and breast cancer patients. Increased mammographic breast density is one of the most pronounced risk factors for non- familial breast cancer and even though patients with increased mammographic breast density are at an elevated risk of developing breast cancer, at this point it remains unclear if a higher density also raises questions as to whether a lower survival rate is prevalent in these breast cancer patients.
Breast Cancer, Density, and Survival Rates
Upon further investigation, Gretchen L. Gierach, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland and her team analyzed data from the U.S. Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium, which involved information on 9,232 women diagnosed with primary invasive breast carcinoma between 1996-2005. They observed that the density of the breast tissue had no obvious impact on the mortality risk once the disease had developed. The study authors concluded that the results support the need for further investigation and concluded that possible interaction associated with breast density and other patient characteristics, as well as breast cancer treatment are all likely to influence breast cancer prognosis.
Breast Cancer Detection and Cosmetic Surgery
Dr. Seify encourages all breast surgery patients including those who have had cosmetic procedures such as breast augmentation with breast implants, breast lift, or breast reduction to consult with their primary care physician regarding his/her recommendation for mammography. Patients that naturally have dense breast tissue may find that their primary care physician recommends they have a mammogram along with an additional ultrasound test designed to detect breast cancer in dense breast tissue. All patients should conduct monthly breast self- exams as a preventative measure that also allows patients to become more familiar with their own breast and detect any changes that could be present.