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Researchers from the National Cancer Institute discovered that having dense breasts does not necessarily mean that patients who have breast cancer are more likely to die. This finding may be important for individuals who screen positive for the malignant disease through a lab test.
Previous studies have shown that tissue density is one of the strongest risk factors for non-hereditary breast cancer. However, this variable's impact on mortality has not been clear.
In order to investigate further, a team of scientists reviewed medical data collected from more than 9,200 women who were diagnosed with primary invasive breast cancer between 1996 and 2005. Results of their analysis indicated that there was no relationship between breast density and risk of death in the overall population.
"It is reassuring that elevated breast density, a prevalent and strong breast cancer risk factor, was not associated with risk of breast cancer death or death from any cause in this large, prospective study," the researchers wrote in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
However, low breast density may influence mortality in obese patients because a high-fat environment may promote tumor progression. Further studies are needed in order to prove this.
In the meantime, women who screen positive for breast cancer through a lab test should consult a physician about their results.
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