Mammographic density is a potential predictive marker of pathological response after neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer

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BACKGROUND: Our aim is to study if mammographic density (MD) prior to neoadjuvant chemotherapy is a predictive factor in accomplishing a pathological complete response (pCR) in neoadjuvant-treated breast cancer patients.

METHODS: Data on all neoadjuvant treated breast cancer patients in Southern Sweden (2005-2016) were retrospectively identified, with patient and tumor characteristics retrieved from their medical charts. Diagnostic mammograms were used to evaluate and score MD as categorized by breast composition with the Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) 5th edition. Logistic regression was used in complete cases to assess the odds ratios (OR) for pCR compared to BI-RADS categories (a vs b-d), adjusting for patient and pre-treatment tumor characteristics.

RESULTS: A total of 302 patients were included in the study population, of which 57 (18.9%) patients accomplished pCR following neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The number of patients in the BI-RADS category a, b, c, and d were separately 16, 120, 140, and 26, respectively. In comparison to patients with BI-RADS breast composition a, patients with denser breasts had a lower OR of accomplishing pCR: BI-RADS b 0.32 (95%CI 0.07-0.1.5), BI-RADS c 0.30 (95%CI 0.06-1.45), and BI-RADS d 0.06 (95%CI 0.01-0.56). These associations were measured with lower point estimates, but wider confidence interval, in premenopausal patients; OR of accomplishing pCR for BI-RADS d in comparison to BI-RADS a: 0.03 (95%CI 0.00-0.76).

CONCLUSIONS: The likelihood of accomplishing pCR is indicated to be lower in breast cancer patients with higher MD, which need to be analysed in future studies for improved clinical decision-making regarding neoadjuvant treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1272
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 30

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast/diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Density
  • Breast Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sweden
  • Treatment Outcome


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