BACKGROUND: After adjusting for age and body mass index (BMI), mammographic measures - dense area (DA), percent dense area (PDA) and non-dense area (NDA) - are associated with breast cancer risk. Our aim was to use longitudinal data to estimate the extent to which these risk-predicting measures track over time. METHODS: We collected 4,320 mammograms (age range, 24-83 years) from 970 women in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study and the Australian Breast Cancer Family Registry. Women had on average 4.5 mammograms (range, 1-14). DA, PDA and NDA were measured using the Cumulus software and normalised using the Box-Cox method. Correlations in the normalised risk-predicting measures over time intervals of different lengths were estimated using nonlinear mixed-effects modelling of Gompertz curves. RESULTS: Mean normalised DA and PDA were constant with age to the early 40s, decreased over the next two decades, and almost constant from the mid 60s onwards. Mean normalised NDA increased non-linearly with age. After adjusting for age and BMI, the within-woman correlation estimates for normalised DA were 0.94, 0.93, 0.91, 0.91 and 0.91 for mammograms taken 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 years apart, respectively. Similar correlations were estimated for the age and BMI adjusted normalized PDA and NDA. CONCLUSION: The mammographic measures that predict breast cancer risk are highly correlated over time. IMPACT: This has implications for etiologic research and clinical management whereby women at increased risk could be identified at a young age (e.g. early 40s or even younger) and recommended appropriate screening and prevention strategies.
- Received June 16, 2016.
- Revision received November 4, 2016.
- Accepted November 14, 2016.
- Copyright ©2017, American Association for Cancer Research.