Background: Tamoxifen therapy has been shown to have greater therapeutic benefit among women whose breast density declines subsequent to treatment than among women whose density does not decline. Although limited data suggests that endocrine symptoms after tamoxifen initiation may be associated with improved breast cancer outcomes, it is unknown whether these symptoms are associated with reductions in breast density. We therefore evaluated endocrine symptoms and change in breast density in a 12-month longitudinal study of women undergoing tamoxifen therapy for clinical indications.

Methods: Cohort members (N=74) were aged 30-74 years in the Ultrasound Study of Tamoxifen at Karmanos Cancer Institute and Henry Ford Health Systems (Detroit, MI). Endocrine symptoms and breast density were both assessed prior to tamoxifen initiation (T0) and at 1-3 months (T1), 4-6 months (T2), and approximately 12 months (T3) post-tamoxifen initiation. Treatment-associated endocrine symptoms included treatment-emergent or increasing vasomotor and/or joint symptoms. Endocrine symptom severity was also assessed with a Likert scale for symptom frequency and categorized as no symptoms (score=0), low/moderate symptoms (score=1-5), and high symptoms (score=6+). Sound speed (m/s), a surrogate of volumetric breast density, was measured with whole breast ultrasound tomography. Change in breast density was calculated as density at T1-T3 minus density at T0. We used multivariable linear regression to estimate mean change in density by endocrine symptoms adjusting for age, race, menopausal status, body mass index, and baseline sound speed. Generalized estimating equations were used to account for within-subject correlations over time.

Results: Women with treatment-associated endocrine symptoms had an overall greater mean reduction in breast density compared with women without symptoms (mean change [95% CI]: -1.97 m/s [-3.80, -0.13]; -0.27 m/s [- 3.50, 2.95], respectively; p=0.22). Longitudinal trends in breast density significantly differed for women with versus without treatment-associated endocrine symptoms (p-interaction=0.02). Significant declines in breast density over time were observed among women with treatment-associated endocrine symptoms (p-trend=0.005), but not among women without symptoms (p-trend=0.16). Similar trends in breast density decline were observed among women with higher symptom severity (p-trends for no symptoms=0.53; low/moderate symptoms=0.04; high symptoms=0.008).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that treatment-associated endocrine symptoms may be associated with a significant decline in breast density after tamoxifen initiation. Further studies are needed to assess whether these observations can predict clinical outcome, and if confirmed, both treatment-associated endocrine symptoms and observed reductions in breast density may be useful for patients and providers to improve adherence.

Citation Format: Cody Ramin, Ruth Pfeiffer, Shaoqi Fan, Maeve Mullooly, Roni T. Falk, Mark A. Sak, Michael S. Simon, David H. Gorski, Haythem Ali, Peter Littrup, Nebojsa Duric, Mark E. Sherman, Gretchen L. Gierach. Treatment-associated endocrine symptoms and change in ultrasound tomography measures of breast density after tamoxifen therapy [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research 2020; 2020 Apr 27-28 and Jun 22-24. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2020;80(16 Suppl):Abstract nr 5805.