Cancer Res Treat.  2019 Oct;51(4):1295-1301. 10.4143/crt.2018.297.

Prevalence of Women with Dense Breasts in Korea: Results from a Nationwide Cross-sectional Study

  • 1National Cancer Control Institute, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea.
  • 2Department of Radiology, Soonchunhyang University Bucheon Hospital, Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, Bucheon, Korea.
  • 3Center for Breast Cancer, National Cancer Center Hospital, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea.
  • 4Department of Radiology, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.
  • 5Department of Radiology, Research Institute of Radiology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 6Department of Radiology, Gangnam Healthcare Center, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
  • 7Department of Radiology, CHA Bundang Medical Center, CHA University, Seongnam, Korea.


Women with dense breast are known to be at high risk for breast cancer, but their prevalence and number of Korean women are unknown. The current study was to investigate the distribution of mammographic breast density by age of women undergoing screening mammography, and to estimate the prevalence of Korean women with dense breasts, quantitatively.
For obtaining a nationwide representative sample, 6,481 mammograms were collected from 86 screening units participated in the National Cancer Screening Program for breast cancer. Based on the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System classification, breast density was evaluated by six breast radiologists, qualitatively. We applied these breast density distributions to age-specific counts of the Korean women population derived to mid-year 2017 to estimate the number of Korean women with dense breasts.
Overall, 54.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 52.9% to 55.8%) of women 40 to 69 years of age had heterogeneously or extremely dense breasts, and this proportion was inversely associated with age. Based on the age distribution of Korean women, we estimated that 6,083,000 women (95% CI, 5,919,600 to 6,245,600) age 40-69 years in Korean have dense breasts. Women aged 40-49 years (n=3,450,000) accounted for 56.7% of this group.
More than half of Korean women aged 40 and over have dense breasts. To prevent breast cancer effectively and efficiently, it is necessary to develop a new personalized prevention strategy considering her status of breast density.


Breast density; Prevalence; Mammography; Korea
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