Women with dense breasts more likely to develop breast cancer: study

Women with dense breasts more likely to develop breast cancer: study

Women with breasts composed mainly of dense glandular tissue rather than fat face a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study.

Led by Dr. Natalie Engmann of UC San Francisco, a team of researchers examined data on more than 18,000 women suffering breast malignancies and another 184,000 women without the deadly disease of breast cancer.

The researchers were surprised to find that breast density emerged the biggest indicator of the disease, even bigger than other common risk factors, such as family history or waiting until after age of 30 years to have babies.

Dr. Engmann called dense breasts a big problem because dense glandular tissue makes it harder for doctors to detect a potentially cancerous tumor. Nearly 60 per cent of younger women and 40 percent of older women who have attained menopause have been found to have dense breasts.

Sharing the study's findings, Dr. Engmann said, "Women with dense breasts have a roughly 2-fold higher breast cancer risk relative to women with non-dense breasts . reducing the number of women with dense breasts may prevent a substantial proportion of breast cancer cases."

A different study indicated that only a relatively small percentage of women with early-stage of breast cancer get genetic testing prior to surgery.

The findings appeared in the Wednesday, Feb. 7th, edition of the journal JAMA.

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