Breast Mammographic Density: Stromal Implications on Breast Cancer Detection and Therapy

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Current evidences state clear that both normal development of breast tissue as well as its malignant progression need many-sided local and systemic communications between epithelial cells and stromal components. During development, the stroma, through remarkably regulated contextual signals, affects the fate of the different mammary cells regarding their specification and differentiation. Likewise, the stroma can generate tumour environments that facilitate the neoplastic growth of the breast carcinoma. Mammographic density has been described as a risk factor in the development of breast cancer and is ascribed to modifications in the composition of breast tissue, including both stromal and glandular compartments. Thus, stroma composition can dramatically affect the progression of breast cancer but also its early detection since it is mainly responsible for the differences in mammographic density among individuals. This review highlights both the pathological and biological evidences for a pivotal role of the breast stroma in mammographic density, with particular emphasis on dense and malignant stromas, their clinical meaning and potential therapeutic implications for breast cancer patients.
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