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We present an image analysis method that can detect and measure breast density from digitised mammograms. We present initial results on applying our method to characterise breast changes, in particular, changes due to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). It has been established that long-term use of certain hormone replacement therapies can increase the risk of breast cancer, a fact that encourages the notion that objective measures of tissue density can be an important development in breast cancer image analysis. A set of 59 temporal pairs of mammograms of patients undergoing HRT (two images per patient) were used. The clinician's assessment of density changes constituted the ground truth for evaluating the proposed quantitative measures of density change. The measures we developed are based on the Standard Mammogram Form (SMF) representation of interesting tissue and their performance (agreement with the expert's description) is also compared to the "interactive thresholding" method that has been used in the past to characterise mammographic density. The results clearly indicate that present methods for measuring mammographic density fail to characterise temporal changes while the proposed measures have the potential to aid the radiologist in assessing temporal density changes both on a global and a local basis.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Radiol

Publication Date





276 - 282


Algorithms, Breast, Breast Neoplasms, Female, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Mammography, Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted, Risk Factors