US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — An analysis based on a large cohort study showed that breast density, microcalcifications, and breast compaction are associated with an increased risk of developing cancerous tumors. An article about this was published in Cancer Research.
According to the lead author of the study, Natalie Holovko of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, although experts are well aware of the signs associated with the development of breast cancer, their genetic basis has been little studied. The heritability of many of these traits — for example, microcalcifications (mineral deposits) or compaction — is not known to scientists. “We wanted to study the heritability of these traits, as this would help identify important loci responsible for susceptibility to breast cancer,” says Holovko. “They could be used to better identify women with an increased risk of developing breast cancer.”
The authors studied the results of mammographic screening of women participating in a prospective cohort study KARMA. Subjects under the age of 40 and over 75, as well as women with a history of breast cancer or a change in breast size, were excluded from the study.
Based on the collected data, the heritability of four mammographic traits was calculated – the density of breast tissue, changes in average density over the course of the year, the presence of seals and microcalcifications. The parameters for the calculations were collected from 1940 pairs of women who were sisters to each other.
The heritability of the density of the mammary glands was 0.58 (that is, this parameter is due to genetics by 58% and other factors by 42%). The heritability of microcalcifications and seals according to the calculation results was 0.23 and 0.13, respectively. Changes in breast density over time were not recognized as an inherited factor.
Holovko and her colleagues also studied the relationship between mammographic traits and a genetic predisposition to breast cancer in 9365 KARMA subjects. It turned out that breast density and microcalcifications have a statistically significant positive relationship with the appearance of neoplasms.
“If we can better understand the mammographic signs associated with the risk of developing breast cancer, we will be able to improve methods for measuring these characteristics and, hopefully, improve early detection of breast cancer,” comments Natalie Holovko.
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