Mammographic Density Reduction as a Prognostic Marker for Postmenopausal Breast Cancer: Results Using a Joint Longitudinal-Survival Modeling Approach.

Previous studies have linked reductions in mammographic density after a breast cancer diagnosis to an improved prognosis. These studies focused on short-term change, using a 2-stage process, treating estimated change as a fixed covariate in a survival model. We propose the use of a joint longitudinal-survival model. This enables us to model long-term trends in density while accounting for dropout as well as for measurement error. We studied the change in mammographic density after a breast cancer diagnosis and its association with prognosis (measured by cause-specific mortality), overall and with respect to hormone replacement therapy and tamoxifen treatment. We included 1,740 women aged 50-74 years, diagnosed with breast cancer in Sweden during 1993-1995, with follow-up until 2008. They had a total of 6,317 mammographic density measures available from the first 5 years of follow-up, including baseline measures. We found that the impact of the withdrawal of hormone replacement therapy on density reduction was larger than that of tamoxifen treatment. Unlike previous studies, we found that there was an association between density reduction and survival, both for tamoxifen-treated women and women who were not treated with tamoxifen.