PURPOSE. Increased mammographic percent density (MPD) is a strong independent risk factor for developing breast cancer. Previous studies have shown that tissue sound speed, derived from ultrasound tomography, is a surrogate biomarker of MPD. We examined associations of sound speed and MPD with breast cancer risk in a case-control study.

METHOD AND MATERIALS. We evaluated breast cancer risk associated with sound speed and MPD in a case-control study involving 59 participants with recent breast cancer diagnoses (cases, aged 30-70 years) and 150 participants with no history of breast cancer (controls), who were matched to cases on age, race, and menopausal status. The cases and controls were imaged with both ultrasound tomography (UST) and mammography. In cases, breast density was measured pre-treatment in the contralateral breast to avoid potential influences of tumor-related changes on MPD or sound speed. In controls, a randomly selected breast was imaged. The ultrasound tomography images were used to estimate the volume averaged sound speed of the breast, and the Cumulus software package was applied to mammograms to determine MPD. Odds Ratios (ORs) and 95% Confidence Intervals (CIs), adjusted for matching factors, were calculated for the relation of quartiles of MPD and sound speed with breast cancer risk. OR differences were tested using a bootstrap approach.

RESULTS. MPD was associated with elevated breast cancer risk compared to controls, consistent with previous studies, although the trend did not reach statistical significance (OR per quartile=1.28, 95%CI: 0.95, 1.73; ptrend=0.10). In contrast, elevated sound speed was significantly associated with increased breast cancer risk in a dose-response fashion (OR per quartile=1.79, 95%CI: 1.30, 2.48; ptrend=0.0004). The OR-trend for sound speed was statistically significantly different from that observed for MPD (p=0.01).

DISCUSSION. Our case-control study showed that increasing quartiles of whole breast sound speed were consistently and more strongly associated with increasing breast cancer risk than quartiles of MPD. These results show promise for UST’s role in breast cancer risk stratification.

CONCLUSION. Elevated breast density strongly increases breast cancer risk. UST has the potential to provide a more accurate, non-ionizing method for assessing breast density and its associated breast cancer risk.

Citation Format: Mark Sak, Neb Duric, Ruth Pfeiffer, Mark Sherman, Peter Littrup, Michael Simon, David Gorski, Teri Albrecht, Haythem Ali, Rachel Brem, Rachel Brem, Sharon Fan, Gretchen Gierach. Tissue sound speed is more strongly associated with breast cancer risk than mammographic percent density: A comparative case-control study [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; 2019 Dec 10-14; San Antonio, TX. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2020;80(4 Suppl):Abstract nr P3-08-28.