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PB.21: Relationship between volumetric breast density and socioeconomic status

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Breast Cancer Research201315 (Suppl 1) :P21

  • Published:


  • Breast Cancer
  • Socioeconomic Status
  • Breast Cancer Risk
  • Breast Density
  • Develop Breast Cancer


Women of higher socioeconomic status (SES) are at increased risk of developing breast cancer, but it is unclear to what extent this is mediated by differences in mammographic breast density, a well-established breast cancer risk factor. Here we explore the relationship between volumetric breast density and SES.


Data from 6,398 perimenopausal/postmenopausal women undergoing routine NHSBSP screening were obtained from those consenting to the PROCAS (Predicting Risk Of Cancer At Screening) study. SES was assessed by obtaining the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) associated with each participant's postcode. Volumetric breast density was measured using Volpara™. The association between volumetric breast density and IMD, adjusting for age, HRT use and BMI, was assessed using linear regression.


A very weak negative relationship was seen between volumetric breast density and IMD (B coefficient -0.023, P < 0.001), suggesting that increasing deprivation (lower SES) is associated with reduced breast density. A decreasing trend in IMD was seen with Volpara™ VDG breast density category (Table 1). This relationship was mainly driven by a negative association between SES and BMI, although unaffected by age or current HRT use.

Table 1

Volpara™ density grade (VDG)

Volpara™ breast density (%)

Mean IMD

Number (%) of women




1923 (30.0%)


4.5 to 7.5


2765 (43.2%)


7.6 to 15.5


1505 (23.5%)




205 (3.2%)


SES (as measured by IMD) is not strongly associated with breast density. Established SES gradients in breast cancer risk are likely to be related to other SES-related factors, primarily BMI, rather than mammographic breast density.

Authors’ Affiliations

University of Manchester, UK
Nightingale Centre and Genesis Prevention Centre, University Hospital of South Manchester, UK
University Hospital of South Manchester, UK


© Samuels et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.