The mammographic density of a mass is a significant predictor of breast cancer

Ryan W. Woods, Gale S. Sisney, Lonie R. Salkowski, Kazuhiko Shinki, Yunzhi Lin, Elizabeth S. Burnside

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine whether the mammographic density of non-calcified solid breast masses is associated with malignancy and to measure the agreement between prospective and retrospective assessment. Materials and Methods: The institutional review board approved this study and waived informed consent. Three hundred forty-eight consecutive breast masses in 328 women who underwent imageguided or surgical biopsy between October 2005 and December 2007 were included. All 348 biopsy-proved masses were randomized and assigned to a radiologist who was blinded to biopsy results for retrospective assessment by using the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (retrospectively assessed data set). Clinical radiologists prospectively assessed the density of 180 of these masses (prospectively assessed data set). Pathologic result at biopsy was the reference standard. Benign masses were followed for at least 1 year by linking each patient to a cancer registry. Univariate analyses were performed on the retrospectively assessed data set. The association of mass density and malignancy was examined by creating a logistic model for the prospectively assessed data set. Agreement between prospective and retrospective assessments was calculated by using the k statistic. Results: In the retrospectively assessed data set, 70.2% of highdensity masses were malignant, and 22.3% of the isodense or low-density masses were malignant(P < .0001). In the prospective logistic model, high density (odds ratio, 6.6), irregular shape (odds ratio, 9.9), spiculated margin (odds ratio, 20.3), and age (β = 0.09, P < .0001) were significantly associated with the probability of malignancy. The κ value for prospective-retrospective agreement of mass density was 0.53. Conclusion: High mass density is significantly associated with malignancy in both retrospectively and prospectively assessed data sets, with moderate prospective-retrospective agreement. Radiologists should consider mass density as a valuable descriptor that can stratify risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-425
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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