If you have breast cancer but also dense breasts, does this mean you should seriously consider having the healthy breast removed, since extreme and even moderate density is a risk factor even in women who’ve never had breast cancer?
There is a study that shows an association between dense breasts and the risk of the healthy breast eventually getting cancer if not removed.
“Contralateral disease” refers to the development of cancer in a healthy breast subsequent to the other breast developing the disease.
A report in the journal Cancer tells of the link between breast density and contralateral BC.
The paper points out that density is a risk factor for the development of a primary malignant tumor.
But is it a risk factor for contralateral disease?
If a woman gets breast cancer, what are the chances, in general, of getting it in the other breast?
The 10 year risk ranges from two percent to 40 percent, due to a variety of risk factors such as family history and whether or not the disease was estrogen receptive.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer study involved 680 BC patients. Known BC risk factors were adjusted for.
Despite that, a nearly two-fold increased risk of developing cancer in the healthy breast (at least six months out from initial diagnosis) was found in patients with dense breasts – when compared to subjects with “non-dense” breasts.
What should a woman do?
Some women with the disease will automatically opt for a double mastectomy regardless of whether or not their breasts are dense.
It’s an option open to all patients.
Others will opt for the removal of only one breast, based on personal preference.
The patient should discuss all of this with her surgeon and oncologist.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.