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Mammographic Density and Breast Cancer Risk in Different Ethnic Groups in the UK

Mammographic density, the proportion of fibroglandular tissue in the breast, is one of the strongest known risk factors for breast cancer. Women who have radiodense tissue in 50-69% and over 70% of the breast area are at a 3- and 4.5-fold increased risk of subsequent breast cancer. This risk factor has the potential to play a major role in studies of breast cancer aetiology and in finding targets for breast cancer prevention, as it is modifiable and accounts for a large proportion of breast cancers.

There are known ethnic variations in breast cancer rates in the UK, e.g. South Asian women have lower rates than European women. Less is known about the rates among Black women. However ethnic differences in breast density have not yet been studied in the UK. We are conducting a study examining differences in breast density distributions between women of White British, Black and South Asian ethnicities. We will examine breast density distributions, rates of change of breast density at ages 50-64 and determinants of these. Both lifestyle and biological determinants are being studied. Participants in this study are regular breast screening attendees at the Central and East London Breast Screening Service.

This study will enable us to examine whether ethnic differences in rates of breast cancer are due to differences in breast density distributions and to identify factors that explain differences in breast density, factors that may identify ways in which breast density and ultimately breast cancer risk may be reduced.

For further details, please contact Valerie McCormack.

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