According to an article recently published in Breast Cancer Research, women with asymmetrical breasts are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Approximately 200,000 women are diagnosed annually with breast cancer in the US alone. When diagnosed and treated early (prior to spread from the breast), cure rates for breast cancer remain high following standard therapy. However, cure rates fall dramatically once the cancer has spread. Therefore, identifying factors associated with a higher risk of developing breast cancer is important; these patients may benefit from more frequent screening to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages.

Prior data has indicated that asymmetrical breasts may be associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. In light of this, researchers from Europe recently conducted another study to evaluate the relationship between breast asymmetry and the development of breast cancer.

This study included 252 women who had a normal initial mammogram, but later developed breast cancer; they were compared to women who had not developed breast cancer within that time frame.

  • For every 100 ml difference in volume between breasts, the risk of breast cancer was increased in these women.
  • Along with other known variables-such as family history of breast cancer, age of menarche (menstruation), height, menopausal status, parenchyma (tissue) type of the breast-differences in volume between the breasts was also an independent factor that was associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

The researchers concluded that women with highly asymmetrical breasts may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks of developing breast cancer as well as a screening schedule for the early detection of breast cancer. The authors also recommended that healthcare providers add breast asymmetry to their list of high-risk factors for their patients; however, screening guidelines for individuals with breast asymmetry needs further study.

Reference: Scutt D, Lancaster G, Manning J. Breast Asymmetry and Predisposition to Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer Journal. 2006;8. doi:10.1186/bcr1388

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