FRIDAY, Dec. 2, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Women with benign breast disease have an elevated long-term risk for breast cancer, according to a study presented at the annual European Breast Cancer Conference, held from Nov. 16 to 18 in Barcelona, Spain, and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Marta Román, Ph.D., from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues analyzed individual-level data from 778,306 women aged 50 to 69 years with at least one mammographic screening participation from 1996 to 2015 to assess the long-term risk for breast cancer after benign breast disease diagnosed through breast screening.

The researchers found that during the study period, 17,827 and 11,708 women were diagnosed with benign breast disease and had an incident breast cancer, respectively, corresponding to an incidence rate of 14.8 and 24.8 per 1,000 women among those without and with a benign breast disease, respectively. The overall increased relative risk was 1.77 for women with benign breast disease. For women with benign breast disease, the excess risk remained elevated over time, with relative risks of 1.99 and 1.96 for those followed for less than four years and 12 to 20 years, respectively. The excess incidence risk was independent of year or age at mammography.

“This is important,” Román said in a statement. “It suggests that benign breast disease is a key indicator that a woman has a higher risk of breast cancer, rather than simply being something that could develop into a cancer. In fact, we often find the benign disease in one breast and then cancer develops in the other breast.”

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