Assistant Professor Jennifer Stone has been awarded $200,000 by the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) to investigate the effectiveness of a new tool to measure breast density in young women.
Breast density is a strong predictor of breast cancer risk. Women with extensive breast density are 4-6 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women of the same age but with little or no breast density. Based on existing evidence, we believe that breast density is established when the breasts form, largely due to genetic factors, and then environmental factors modify breast density over time. However, all of this evidence has been derived from mammography which is not recommended for younger women (<40 years) due to low absolute risk and radiation exposure. New methods of measuring breast density are therefore needed to bridge large gaps in knowledge regarding breast density in young women and its relation to later-life breast cancer risk. Members of our team have developed Transillumination Breast Spectroscopy (TiBS) which measures spectral differences in breast composition using visible and near infrared light. It correlates highly with mammographic breast density in women over 40 and is safe and easy to use.
Jennifer has received NBCF funding for a pilot study which aims to test the feasibility and acceptability of a novel method, TiBS, to measure breast density in young adult women participating in the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (the Raine Study). An advantage of the Raine Study is that it is an established cohort with extensive prospectively collected data since in utero. This data will be used to help validate TiBS as a measure of breast density by comparing associations between TiBS-measured breast density in young women and factors known to be associated mammographic density in older women, particularly modifying factors such as childhood BMI and young adulthood BMI. This study also will lay the groundwork for a larger, future study needed to understand the life course of breast density and its relation to breast cancer risk.
Assistant Professor Jennifer Stone