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The Ultrasound Study of the Effects of Tamoxifen on Breast Tissue

Mammographic breast density, the radiological representation of the fibroglandular composition of the breast, is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer. Epidemiologic evidence suggests that changes in breast density are related to changes in breast cancer risk. Ultrasound tomography (UST) is a novel radiological method that provides a three-dimensional image of the breast (as opposed to mammography which is two-dimensional). Collaborators at Karmanos Cancer Institute have developed a UST device which allows the calculation of sound speed, an objective physical measurement which is positively correlated with breast density. Thus, UST offers the possibility of determining breast density serially over time as a volume, without compression of the breast or exposure to potentially harmful ionizing radiation. In collaboration with researchers at Karmanos Cancer Institute and the University of Toronto, DCEG investigators will use UST to define the time course of volumetric breast density changes among women receiving tamoxifen treatment. Tamoxifen is known to reduce breast density and breast cancer risk. Over three years, investigators will enroll 150 women receiving tamoxifen for atypical lobular or ductal hyperplasia, lobular or ductal carcinoma in situ, or invasive breast cancer at Karmanos Cancer Institute to undergo repeated volumetric breast density assessment with UST. They will assess whether UST examinations performed as early as 1-3 months following initiation of tamoxifen can identify women whose breast density is demonstrated to have declined at one year using mammography. For comparison, investigators will enroll 150 age-, race-, and menopausal status-matched women without breast cancer to assess changes in UST density over time without tamoxifen exposure. Risk factor data and blood will also be collected from study participants. The broader study objective is to assess the concept of breast density as a biosensor of tamoxifen response and UST as a useful tool for making this determination.

For more information, contact Gretchen Gierach.

Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch - Research Areas