Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women worldwide. Studies have identified breast density as a controversial risk factor of breast cancer. Moreover, studies found that breast density reduction through Tamoxifen could reduce risk of breast cancer significantly. To date, no study on the association between breast density and breast cancer has been carried out in Malaysia. If breast density is proven to be a risk factor of breast cancer, intervention could be carried out to reduce breast cancer risk through breast density reduction.
To determine if density of breast is an independent risk factor which will contribute to development of breast cancer.
A prospective cohort study is carried out in two hospitals targeting adult female patients who presented to the Breast Clinic with symptoms suspicious of breast cancer. Participants recruited were investigated for breast cancer based on their symptoms. Breast density assessed from mammogram was correlated with tissue biopsy results and final diagnosis of benign or malignant breast disease.
Participants with dense breasts showed 29% increased risk of breast cancer when compared to those with almost entirely fatty breasts (odds ratio [OR] 1.29, 95% CI 0.38-4.44, P = .683). Among the postmenopausal women, those with dense breasts were 3.1 times more likely to develop breast cancer compared with those with fatty breasts (OR 3.125, 95% CI 0.72-13.64, P = .13). Moreover, the chance of developing breast cancer increases with age (OR 1.046, 95% CI 1.003-1.090, P < .05). In contrast, the density of breast decreases with increasing age (P < .05) and body mass index (P = .051). The proportion of high breast density whether in the whole sample size, premenopausal, or postmenopausal group was consistently high.
Although results were not statistically significant, important association between breast density and risk of breast cancer cannot be ruled out. The study is limited by a small sample size and subjective assessment of breast density. More studies are required to reconcile the differences between studies of contrasting evidence.

© 2020 The Authors. Cancer Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.