2012 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium – Breast Density and Breast Cancer Risk

Members of Komen’s Research, Evaluation and Scientific Teams were out in force at the recent San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, including Komen’s Scientific Grants Manager Anna Cabanes, who reports on a session about the importance of research into better ways to predict individual breast cancer risk for women with dense breasts.  

A highlight of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium was a phenomenal session on breast density moderated by the Komen Scholar Melissa Bondy that included the experts in the breast density field.

Breast density has received a lot of attention in recent years, because it’s seen as one indicator of the potential to develop breast cancer later in life. Pre-menopausal women are more likely to have dense breasts (more tissue than fat), than post-menopausal women.

We know that – in general — women with high breast density, as seen on a mammogram, are 4-5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women with low breast density. What we don’t fully understand is how and why that happens, or how to accurately predict which women with dense breasts are at high risk to develop breast cancer, and which are at low risk.

The experts in the San Antonio sessions discussed research being done to use biomarkers and genetics information to more accurately assess an individual’s risk. This is in line with the ongoing goal of breast cancer research toward individualized therapies for breast cancer patients, rather than the “one-size-fits-all” approach to breast cancer that prevailed for many years.

New laws in several states require mammography clinics to inform women about their breast density, and the San Antonio panel agreed that women should receive that information.  But they cautioned that given what we know today, women should also be told that the ability to accurately predict an individual’s risk from dense breasts is modest at best.

Learn more about breast density, including questions you should ask your doctor about dense breasts.

About the author

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Susan G. Komen has written 274 articles for Susan G. Komen® | Blog

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.