Background: A dense breast not only reduces the sensitivity of mammography but also is a moderate independent risk factor for breast cancer. The percentage of Western women with fat breast tissue is higher aged 40 years or older. To a certain extent, mammography as a first choice of screening imaging method for Western women of this group is reasonable. Hitherto, the frequency and age distribution of mammographic breast density patterns among Chinese women had not been characterized. The purpose of this study was to investigate the frequency and age distribution of mammographic breast density patterns among a group of Chinese screening women and breast cancer patients in order to provide useful information for age-specific guidelines for breast cancer screening in Chinese women.
Methods: A retrospective review of a total of 3,394 screening women between August and December 2009 and 2,527 breast cancer patients between July 2011 and June 2012 was conducted. Descriptive analyses were used to examine the association between age and breast density. The significance of differences of breast density between the screening women and the breast cancer patients was examined using nonparametric tests.
Results: There was a significant inverse relationship between age and breast density overall (r=-0.37, p< 0.01). Breast density of the breast cancer patients in the subgroups of 40-49 years old was greater compared with that of the screening women, the same in those aged 50-54 years and in those 55 years old orolder, less than in the screening group.
Conclusions: With regard to the Chinese women younger than 55 years old, the diagnostic efficiency of breast cancer screening imaging examinations may be potentially improved by combining screening mammography with ultrasound.