Stromal characteristics may hold the key to mammographic density: the evidence to date

Alastair J. Ironside _ and J. Louise Jones

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:31550-31562. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6912

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Alastair J. Ironside1 and J. Louise Jones1

1 Centre for Tumour Biology, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

Correspondence to:

Alastair J. Ironside, email:

Keywords: mammographic density, breast cancer, stroma, extracellular matrix, collagen

Received: July 23, 2015 Accepted: January 02, 2016 Published: January 13, 2016


There is strong epidemiological data indicating a role for increased mammographic density (MD) in predisposing to breast cancer, however, the biological mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are less well understood. Recently, studies of human breast tissues have started to characterise the features of mammographically dense breasts, and a number of in-vitro and in-vivo studies have explored the potential mechanisms through which dense breast tissue may exert this tumourigenic risk. This article aims to review both the pathological and biological evidence implicating a key role for the breast stromal compartment in MD, how this may be modified and the clinical significance of these findings. The epidemiological context will be briefly discussed but will not be covered in detail.

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