DENSE scientific study
The DENSE scientific study is carried out as part of the existing breast cancer screening and is coordinated by the Julius Center. The aim is to determine the added value of an MRI study in women between 50 and 75 years of age with very dense breast tissue.
Information for general practitioners and research participants (in Dutch)
Achtergrond en doel
Using X-rays, the current screening checks women between the ages of fifty and seventy-five for breast cancer. This practice has been proven to allow earlier diagnosis of breast cancer, even before the woman can feel it herself. Early detection increases the chance of a successful treatment. As a result of the screening, approximately 700 fewer women die from breast cancer each year. However, the screening does not detect all cases of breast cancer. One in three is discovered in a different manner.
There are women who discover breast cancer later on because they feel a lump or have other symptoms. This is most common in women with very dense breast tissue. They have a lot of glandular and connective tissue in their breasts.
The dense breast tissue can hide the presence of breast cancer in an X-ray, making it harder to see any breast cancer. Another factor is that women with very dense breast tissue have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer than women with little dense breast tissue. For these two reasons, women with very dense breast tissue may benefit more from an examination using a different imaging technique. MRI seems promising for this group of women. Various studies have shown that MRI has virtually no "problems" with the dense glandular tissue and is therefore better able to detect the tumors compared to X-ray.
However, we do not yet know how effective MRI is at detecting breast cancer. It is as yet also unclear whether MRI screening entails (too) many disadvantages. MRI examination, for example, could lead to an increase in the number of unnecessary follow-up examinations. The MRI then shows a suspicious abnormality, which proves not to be cancer in follow-up testing: a false positive. This leads to unnecessary anxiety and tension on the part of the woman. The study examines how often this will happen.
The DENSE study examines whether an MRI examination in women with very dense breast tissue is more likely to detect breast cancer at an early stage. In addition, we are investigating whether the MRI screening does not lead to too many unnecessary follow-up examinations and look at whether the benefits outweigh the costs. The outcomes from this group will be compared with the results of the regular Breast Cancer Screening Program.