Effects of tissue heterogeneity on the optical estimate of breast density
Breast density is a recognized strong and independent risk factor for developing breast cancer. At present, breast density is assessed based on the radiological appearance of breast tissue, thus relying on the use of ionizing radiation. We have previously obtained encouraging preliminary results with our portable instrument for time domain optical mammography performed at 7 wavelengths (635–1060 nm). In that case, information was averaged over four images (cranio-caudal and oblique views of both breasts) available for each subject. In the present work, we tested the effectiveness of just one or few point measurements, to investigate if tissue heterogeneity significantly affects the correlation between optically derived parameters and mammographic density. Data show that parameters estimated through a single optical measurement correlate strongly with mammographic density estimated by using BIRADS categories. A central position is optimal for the measurement, but its exact location is not critical.