Breast cancer remains the most common nonskin cancer among women and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Early detection through screening and advances in treatment have contributed to a 39% mortality reduction in the United States since 1990. The NCCN Guidelines for Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis recommend annual mammographic screening for average-risk women beginning at age 40 years. Mammographic screening and subsequent treatment reduces breast cancer mortality based on a wide range of studies. This article highlights NCCN's position on screening mammography and the screening controversy.
Mark A. Helvie and Therese B. Bevers
Renee W. Pinsky and Mark A. Helvie
Mammographic breast density has been studied for more than 30 years. Greater breast density not only is related to decreased sensitivity of mammograms because of a masking effect but also is a major independent risk factor for breast cancer. This article defines breast density and reviews literature on quantification of mammographic density that is key to future clinical and research protocols. Important influences on breast density are addressed, including age, menopausal status, exogenous hormones, and genetics of density. Young women with dense breasts benefit from digital mammographic technique. The potential use of supplemental MRI and ultrasound screening techniques in high-risk women and women with dense breasts is explored, as are potential risk reduction strategies.