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Cancer Causes Control. 2015 Apr;26(4):621-6. doi: 10.1007/s10552-015-0551-2. Epub 2015 Mar 12.

Mammographic density and breast cancer risk by family history in women of white and Asian ancestry.

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University of Hawaii Cancer Center, 701 Ilalo Street, Honolulu, HI, 96813, USA,



Mammographic density, i.e., the radiographic appearance of the breast, is a strong predictor of breast cancer risk. To determine whether the association of breast density with breast cancer is modified by a first-degree family history of breast cancer (FHBC) in women of white and Asian ancestry, we analyzed data from four case-control studies conducted in the USA and Japan.


The study population included 1,699 breast cancer cases and 2,422 controls, of whom 45% reported white (N = 1,849) and 40% Asian (N = 1,633) ancestry. To standardize mammographic density assessment, a single observer re-read all mammograms using one type of interactive thresholding software. Logistic regression was applied to estimate odds ratios (OR) while adjusting for confounders.


Overall, 496 (12%) of participants reported a FHBC, which was significantly associated with breast cancer risk in the adjusted model (OR 1.51; 95% CI 1.23-1.84). There was a statistically significant interaction on a multiplicative scale between FHBC and continuous percent density (per 10 % density: p = 0.03). The OR per 10% increase in percent density was higher among women with a FHBC (OR 1.30; 95% CI 1.13-1.49) than among those without a FHBC (OR 1.14; 1.09-1.20). This pattern was apparent in whites and Asians. The respective ORs were 1.45 (95% CI 1.17-1.80) versus 1.22 (95% CI 1.14-1.32) in whites, whereas the values in Asians were only 1.24 (95% CI 0.97-1.58) versus 1.09 (95% CI 1.00-1.19).


These findings support the hypothesis that women with a FHBC appear to have a higher risk of breast cancer associated with percent mammographic density than women without a FHBC.

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