Secular stability and reliability of measurements of the percentage of dense tissue on mammograms

Jacques Benichou, Celia Byrne, Laura A. Capece, Leslie E. Carroll, Kathy Hurt-Mullen, David Y. Pee, Martine Salane, Catherine Schairer, Mitchell H. Gail*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Elevated mammographic density is associated with increased risk of breast cancer. We conducted a reliability study on mammographic density assessments to determine their potential usefulness for projecting individual breast cancer risk. We used baseline screening mammograms from 7251 women in the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project (BCDDP). Repeated measurements from the same images were used to assess measurement variability by an experienced evaluator. Intraclass correlations of assessments over time usually exceeded 0.9, indicating usefulness for prospective applications. Data also indicated it may be reasonable to include cases identified in the first year of screening together with other cases in developing a risk model. Older ages and increased weight were associated with decreased mammographic density. The density of the right breast slightly exceeded that of the left. Among women who developed breast cancer, the baseline mammographic density of the ipsilateral (diseased) breast was 0.53 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.20-0.86) percentage units higher than in the contralateral breast.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-274
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Detection and Prevention
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessing mammographic density
  • Breast cancer risk factor
  • Breast cancer risk projection
  • Measurement error


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