Making mammographic density a clinically useful predictor of breast cancer risk

Start Year: 2012
Finish Year: 2015
Chief Investigator: Associate Professor Jennifer Stone
Grant Type: Postdoctoral Fellowship
Institution: University of Western Australia

Postdoctoral Training Fellowship

Mammographic density (MD), the white appearance of breast tissue on a mammogram, is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer. Women with extensive MD are 2-6 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women of similar age with little or no MD. It is likely that the environmental and genetic factors that determine MD will also be associated with breast cancer susceptibility. Identifying these factors will increase our understanding of the disease. The measurement of MD also has the potential to be used as a future clinical tool. It could help identify and target women at higher risk (through screening), which could lead to earlier diagnoses and better breast cancer outcomes.

Currently, one of the limiting factors in its implementation as a clinical tool is its impractical measurement. This research aims to identify the determinants of MD and determine how best to measure MD, particularly automated methods that could facilitate clinical uptake. This research will not only increase our knowledge of MD and how it relates to breast cancer risk but will also support the development of a clinical tool that could change public health practice.

This research is co-funded by NBCF and Cure Cancer Australia Foundation.