Zhang S, Ivy JS, Diehl KM, Yankaskas BC. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2013 Jan;137(1):273-83. doi: 10.1007/s10549-012-2310-3.


The effect of breast density on survival outcomes for American women who participate in screening remains unknown. We studied the role of breast density on both breast cancer and other cause of mortality in screened women. Data for women with breast cancer, identified from the community-based Carolina Mammography Registry, were linked with the North Carolina cancer registry and NC death tapes for this study. Cause-specific Cox proportional hazards models were developed to analyze the effect of several covariates on breast cancer mortality-namely, age, race (African American/White), cancer stage at diagnosis (in situ, local, regional, and distant), and breast density (BI-RADS( ® ) 1-4). Two stratified Cox models were considered controlling for (1) age and race, and (2) age and cancer stage, respectively, to further study the effect of density. The cumulative incidence function with confidence interval approximation was used to quantify mortality probabilities over time. For this study, 22,597 screened women were identified as having breast cancer. The non-stratified and stratified Cox models showed no significant statistical difference in mortality between dense tissue and fatty tissue, while controlling for other covariate effects (p value = 0.1242, 0.0717, and 0.0619 for the non-stratified, race-stratified, and cancer stage-stratified models, respectively). The cumulative mortality probability estimates showed that women with dense breast tissues did not have significantly different breast cancer mortality than women with fatty breast tissue, regardless of age (e.g., 10-year confidence interval of mortality probabilities for whites aged 60-69 white: 0.056-0.090 vs. 0.054-0.083). Aging, African American race, and advanced cancer stage were found to be significant risk factors for breast cancer mortality (hazard ratio >1.0). After controlling for cancer incidence, there was not a significant association between mammographic breast density and mortality, adjusting for the effects of age, race, and cancer stage.