Online calculator determines the risk of developing breast cancer by assessing the breast density information, say researchers.
Its applicable only to women aged 35-74 and it involves just six questions based on the person's age, ethnicity and race, family history of breast cancer, breast biopsy and breast density.
A team of researchers from the University of California tested the calculator on more than 1.1 million women, aged 35 to 74. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology
. Its the only calculator that predicts the risk of breast cancer using breast density information as well as diagnoses of benign breast disease (non-cancerous disorders that can affect the breasts).
Dr.Charlotte Gard, New Mexico State University and a consultant at the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium who created the calculator, said, "The new tool is the only one to use breast density and biopsy information."
According to the American Cancer Society, women with dense breast tissue have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer than those with less dense breasts. Dense breast tissue also can make it more difficult for radiologists to see cancer during a mammogram.
"Our research found that, after age, breast density was the most powerful predictor of breast cancer on a population basis. Obviously the BRCA mutation is a much stronger risk factor, but so few women have it that it doesn't help us sort out other women who are at risk," said calculator co-creator Jeffrey A. Tice, University of California, San Francisco.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer this year, and more than 40,000 deaths from the disease. It's the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.