Does breast density issue for older women’s threat of cancer?

Breast density is a acknowledged risk aspect for establishing breast cancer, but that perfectly-acknowledged analysis getting is derived from research executed in women less than age 75. That will make feeling for the reason that breast density declines with age, but most cancers epidemiologist Dejana Braithwaite of the University of Florida’s Most cancers Handle and Population Sciences Program wondered about more mature girls: How much does density fall, and how substantially might it matter?

In an examination of much more than 220,000 mammograms printed Thursday in JAMA Oncology, her crew reports that density — and the hazard of breast most cancers — doesn’t disappear.

Braithwaite talked with STAT about that research and her hope to master more about cancer in older girls. This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.


What have been you hoping to learn?

Even though screening for women of all ages up to 75 is commonly recognized to be proper, what’s less distinct is what takes place just after ladies arrive at age 75 and regardless of whether screening however makes sense. What we seriously want to do is create the proof to tell customized screening tactics. For some women it might make perception to go on screening past age 75, over and above what is proposed by the rules if they’re in very good wellness and possibly have some danger components like breast density. But for some women of all ages who may have some health problems, they may perhaps not reward from screening.


Cancer epidemiologist Dejana Braithwaite Courtesy College of Florida

What’s the link between breast density and most cancers?

A single of the really widespread possibility aspects for breast cancer is breast density, and that is a measure of the sum of fibers or glandular tissue — dense tissue —compared with fatty tissue. Extra density has been involved with increased possibility of invasive breast most cancers.

And for more mature gals?

Ours is a person of the initially research to definitely glimpse at older women, notably females aged 75 and more mature. Even while the prevalence of density decreases with age, about 50 percent of girls age 40 to 64 have dense breasts, and we discovered that by the time women of all ages get into their 60s and 70s, about 30% to 32% nonetheless have dense breasts. And we located that their breast density is associated with elevated danger of invasive breast most cancers in the two age teams of women that we analyzed: 65 to 74, and 75 and more mature.

Was that sudden?

It is surprising that 30% of these women of all ages however have dense breasts — which is perhaps a tiny bit better than what we expected. Soon after menopause, it goes down, but 30% is even now a substantial amount. Provided the associations we have noticed in more youthful ladies that density does direct to an elevated hazard of breast cancer, that finding is not surprising. It is biologically plausible.

How do you visualize your work may possibly impact the care women get or choices they make about continuing to get screening mammograms?

We believe that breast density should be incorporated in prediction versions that are aimed at estimating breast cancer hazard, and to look at that in conjunction with daily life expectancy to make educated selections about opportunity rewards versus harms of ongoing screening. We’re presently establishing an intervention which is aimed at gals and principal treatment medical professionals to provide a individualized possibility evaluation tool to help guidebook discussions about screening after age 75.

When does screening continue to make feeling?

Amongst 75 and 80, some gals who have a great life expectancy of at the very least 10 yrs may well still profit from continuing mammography. It’s genuinely additional that right after age 80, much less women would be possible to reside a different 10 a long time to truly gain. But there is a standard consensus that for any kind of cancer screening, if you have a 10-yr existence expectancy, then there is a high prospect that you will profit from most cancers screening.

This 12 months, screening suggestions for lung and colorectal cancer have started at youthful ages. Your perform suggests extending it at the other conclusion of life.

Indeed, the thoughts are sort of comparable, you know, when to begin and then when to discontinue and how generally to screen. In addition to breast most cancers screening, I do also have a grant that’s concentrating on lung most cancers screening. And the guiding principle of our work is actually to acquire the evidence that can be translated into interventions to aid threat-dependent screening. What we mean by that is actually individualizing cancer screening dependent on affected individual attributes and, overall, how to improve the gains and lessen the harms.

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