Digitized mammography: a clinical trial of postmenopausal women randomly assigned to receive raloxifene, estrogen, or placebo

M Freedman, J San Martin, J O'Gorman, S Eckert, M E Lippman, S C Lo, E L Walls, J Zeng
Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2001 January 3, 93 (1): 51-6

BACKGROUND: High mammographic density is associated with increased breast cancer risk. Previous studies have shown that estrogens increase breast density on mammograms, but the effect on mammographic density of selective estrogen receptor modulators, such as raloxifene, is unknown. We assessed changes in mammographic density among women receiving placebo, raloxifene, or conjugated equine estrogens in an osteoporosis prevention trial.

METHODS: In a 5-year multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled osteoporosis prevention trial, healthy postmenopausal women who had undergone hysterectomy less than 15 years before the study and had no history of breast cancer received placebo, raloxifene (at one of two doses), or conjugated estrogens (ERT). Women from English-speaking investigative sites who had baseline and 2-year craniocaudal mammograms with comparable positioning (n = 168) were eligible for this analysis. Changes in mammographic density were determined by digital scanning and computer-assisted segmentation of mammograms and were analyzed with the use of analysis of variance. All statistical tests were two-sided.

RESULTS: Among the four treatment groups after 2 years on study, the mean breast density (craniocaudal view) was statistically significantly greater in the ERT group than it was in the other three groups (P<0.01 for all three comparisons). Within treatment groups, the mean breast density from baseline to 2 years decreased statistically significantly in women receiving the placebo or either the higher or lower raloxifene dose (P = 0.003, P = 0.002, and P<0.001, respectively) and showed a nonstatistically significant increase in women receiving ERT.

CONCLUSIONS: In an osteoporosis prevention trial, raloxifene did not increase breast density after 2 years of treatment. Raloxifene administration should not interfere with, and could even enhance, mammographic detection of new breast cancers.

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