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The American Society of Breast Surgeons.
Annals of Surgical Oncology

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Does Breast Density Increase the Risk of Re-excision for Women with Breast Cancer Having Breast-Conservation Therapy?

Siun M. Walsh MD, Sandra B. Brennan MD, Emily C. Zabor DrPH, Laura H. Rosenberger MD, Michelle Stempel MPH, Lizza Lebron-Zapata MD, Mary L. Gemignani MD, MPH
Breast Oncology
Volume 26, Issue 13 / December , 2019



Women with dense breasts may have less-accurate preoperative evaluation of extent of disease, potentially affecting the achievement of negative margins. The goal of this study is to examine the association between breast density and re-excision rates in women having breast-conserving surgery for invasive breast cancer.

Patients and Methods

Women with stage I/II invasive breast cancer treated with breast-conserving surgery between 1/1/2014 and 10/31/2014 were included. Breast density was assessed by two radiologists. The association between breast density and re-excision was examined using logistic regression.


Seven hundred and one women were included. Overall, 106 (15.1%) women had at least one re-excision. Younger age at diagnosis was associated with increased breast density (p < 0.001). On univariable analysis, increased breast density was associated with significantly increased odds of re-excision (odds ratio [OR] 1.38, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.04–1.83), as was multifocal disease, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) positive status, and extensive intraductal component (EIC) (all p < 0.05). On multivariable analysis, breast density remained significantly associated with increased odds of re-excision (OR 1.37, 95% CI 1.00–1.86), as did multifocality and EIC. HER2 positive status was not significantly associated with re-excision on multivariable analysis.


Women with dense breasts are more likely to need additional surgery (re-excision after breast-conserving surgery), but increased breast density did not adversely affect disease-free survival in our study. Our findings support the need for further study in developing techniques that can help decrease re-excisions for women with dense breasts who undergo breast-conserving surgery.

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