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Original Research

Open Access

Mammographic features in infertile women as a potential risk for breast cancer: a preliminary study

  • M.L. Meggiorini1,*,
  • V. Cipolla2
  • F. Rech1
  • L. Labi1
  • A. Vestri3
  • C. de Felice2

1Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Rome, Italy

2Department of Radiological Sciences, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Rome, Italy

3Department of Public Health, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Rome, Italy

DOI: 10.12892/ejgo20120151 Vol.33,Issue 1,January 2012 pp.51-55

Published: 10 January 2012

*Corresponding Author(s): M.L. Meggiorini E-mail:


The purpose of the present study was to evaluate breast mammographic features, particularly mammographic density in a selected population of infertile women and to assess if these women should be considered at higher risk for breast cancer. The prevalence of female infertility in Western countries is approximately 10-15% and since causes affecting the female are involved in 35-40%, concerns have developed about the future health of these women, specifically whether infertility could represent a risk factor for future cancer development. Moreover, infertility is now often treated with medication and procedures that could modify the hormonal environment and be cofactors in the cellular changes towards cancer development. Mammographic breast density is a useful marker for breast cancer risk and breast density is considered one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer. Breast density is associated with known breast cancer risk factors such as reproductive and menstrual factors including serum estrogen and progesterone concentrations. in Italy the National Federation for Breast Cancer (FONCAM) guidelines suggest the usefulness of mammography from 35 years of age for women who undergo infertility hormone therapy (FONCAM Guidelines, 2005). According to this recommendation 294 women aged >= 35, with primary infertility, sent to our breast service before joining an IVF program were recruited and then underwent clinical examination and X-ray mammography. Women were divided into two groups: dense breast (DB) and non-dense breast (NDB). Univariate analysis was employed to evaluate if there was an association between mammographic density and other risk factors. Evaluation of mammagraphic features showed the presence of BI-RADs C and D in the sample of 200 (68%) patients with DB and in 94 (32%) patients with NDB BI-RADS A and B. Univariate analysis showed that there were no statistically significant differences between the groups BD and NDB as regards age at mammography, age at menarche, BMI and family history for breast cancer, while ovulatory etiology of infertility was found to be associated with high mammographic density (p < 0.05). In conclusion, bearing in mind that 68% of our study sample had high breast density, we can assume that patients with primary infertility might represent a group at high risk for breast cancer, particularly if infertility is due to an ovulatory factor. We suggest breast screening from the age of 35 in infertile patients who undergo treatment with fertility drugs in accordance with FONCAM recommendations. This might allow the identification of higher risk patients who need more closely monitored breast examinations.


Infertility; Fertility drugs; Breast density; Breast cancer risk

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M.L. Meggiorini,V. Cipolla,F. Rech,L. Labi,A. Vestri,C. de Felice. Mammographic features in infertile women as a potential risk for breast cancer: a preliminary study. European Journal of Gynaecological Oncology. 2012. 33(1);51-55.


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