Determinants and influence of mammographic features on breast cancer risk

Sammanfattning: Mammographic density and mammographic microcalcifications are the key imaging features in mammography examination. Mammographic density is known as a strong risk factor for breast cancer and is the radiographic appearance of epithelial and fibrous tissue which appears white on a mammogram. While, the dark part of a mammogram represents the fatty tissue. Mammographic microcalcifications appear as small deposits of calcium and they are one of the earliest sign of breast cancer. Malignant microcalcifications are seen in both in situ and invasive lesions. In this thesis we used the data from the prospective KARMA cohort to study the association between established breast cancer risk factors with mammographic density change over time (Study I), to examine the association between annual mammographic density change and risk of breast cancer (Study II), to investigate the association between established risk factors for breast cancer and microcalcification clusters and their asymmetry (Study III), and finally to elucidate the association between microcalcification clusters, their asymmetry, and risk of overall and subtype specific breast cancer (Study IV). The lifestyle and reproductive factors were assessed using web-based questionnaires. Average mammographic density and total microcalcification clusters were measured using a Computer Aided Detection system (CAD) and the STRATUS method, respectively. In Study I, the average yearly dense area change was -1.0 cm . Body mass index (BMI) and physical activity were statistically associated with density change. Beside age, lean and physically active women had the largest decrease in mammographic density per year. In Study II, overall, 563 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and annual mammographic density change did not seem to influence the risk of breast cancer. Furthermore, density change does not seem to modify the association between baseline density and risk of breast cancer. In Study III, age, mammographic density, genetic factors related to breast cancer, having more children, longer duration of breast-feeding were significantly associated with increased risk of presence of microcalcification clusters. In Study IV, 676 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Further, women with 33 microcalcification clusters had 2 times higher risk of breast cancer compared to women with no clusters. Microcalcification clusters were associated with both in situ and invasive breast cancer. Finally, during postmenopausal period, microcalcification clusters influence risk of breast cancer to the similar extend as baseline mammographic density. In conclusion, we have identified novel determinants of mammographic density changes and potential predictors of suspicious mammographic microcalcification clusters. Further, our results suggested that annual mammographic density change does not influence breast cancer risk, while presence of suspicious microcalcification clusters was strongly associated with breast cancer risk.

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