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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Breast Asymmetry May Be a Risk Factor for Breast Cancer

Breast asymmetry is a risk factor for breast cancer, according to the
results of a study reported in the March 20 issue of Breast Cancer Research.
"It has been shown in our previous work that breast asymmetry is related to
several of the known risk factors for breast cancer, and that patients with
diagnosed breast cancer have more breast volume asymmetry, as measured from
mammograms, than age-matched healthy women," write Diane Scutt, from the
University of Liverpool, UK, and colleagues. "Symmetrical breast development
may well be an indicator of an individual's ability to tolerate 'disruptive'
hormonal variation whilst maintaining developmental stability.... It would
be an important advance if additional variations in the normal mammogram,
that is breast asymmetry, could be used to help predict the possibility of
developing breast cancer, particularly in high risk individuals."
The investigators compared breast asymmetry in 252 asymptomatic women who
had normal mammograms but went on to develop breast cancer, with that in 252
age-matched healthy control women whose mammograms were also normal and who
remained free of cancer during the study period.
Compared with the control group, the group that went on to develop breast
cancer had more breast asymmetry (absolute asymmetry odds ratio, 1.50 per
100 mL; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.10 - 2.04; relative asymmetry, 1.09;
95% CI, 1.01 - 1.18), increased incidence of family history of breast
cancer, lower age at menarche, later menopause, later first pregnancies, and
a higher frequency of high-risk breast parenchyma types.
Breast asymmetry, height, family history of breast cancer, age at menarche,
parenchyma type, and menopausal status were significant independent
predictors of breast cancer, based on conditional logistic regression
analysis. When age at menopause was included in the model for the subgroup
of postmenopausal women, absolute breast fluctuating asymmetry (FA) and
relative breast FA remained significant predictors.
"Breast asymmetry was greater in healthy women who later developed breast
cancer than in women who did not," the authors write. "Asymmetrical breasts
could be reliable indicators of future breast disease in women and this
factor should be considered in a woman's risk profile."


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