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Asymmetry of the breast - what does that mean?

Asymmetry of the breast - what does that mean?

Postby Julia Veyes » Tue Jun 08, 1999 3:02 pm

I had my first mamogram in Late December '98 - my doctor reported something to the effect of "asymmetry of the left breast" and told me to wait 6 months and have a second mammogram. I plan to have it done beginning of June, but I really don't understand (or don't think I do) what that meant.

My understanding (hopefully) is that may have been the way my breasts are "constructed"...not "symmetrical"...am I close?

Thank you in advance for your response. - Julia V.-
Julia Veyes
 
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Asymmetry of the breast - what does that mean?

Postby Imaginis.net Medical Team » Wed Jun 09, 1999 9:58 am

INFORMATION FOUND WITHIN THIS MESSAGE SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR SELF-TREATMENT. PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR ADDITIONAL MEDICAL DISCLAIMER.

Dear Julia,

Thank you for sending your question to Imaginis.net.

Your understanding below of the meaning of "asymmetrical" is correct. The breasts are composed of a mixture of fat (which appears black on a x-ray mammogram film) and fibrous and glandular tissue (which appears white on a x-ray mammogram film). Black areas on a mammogram are always from fat and are always benign (normal, non-cancerous tissue). All other tissue appears as white and therefore white areas include normal structures and abnormalities. The term "asymmetry" refers to a white area on a mammogram image of one breast that does not have a mirror image area in the other mammogram image of the other breast. This alone is not a worrisome sign since many if not most women are not identical from right to left breast. Breast size and distribution of glandular elements can be strikingly different between a woman's right and left breast. Depending on what the asymmetry looks like the radiologist would either dismiss the area as fibroglandular asymmetry, or evaluate it further if it looked suspicious.

The statistics below were just presented at the Breast Society meeting in Boston, attended by members of the Imaginis.net Breast Health Team. The statistics will be updated on the Imaginis.net/breastcancer website shortly. Screening mammography on an annual basis is now recommended for all women over the age 40.

Of all of the screening mammograms done annually:

- Approximately 90% of all screening mammograms show no evidence of cancer
- Approximately 10% of all screening mammograms show abnormalities which require further diagnostic testing

Of those referred for additional diagnostic testing and further views (which
may include diagnostic mammography and/or ultrasound)
:

- 30% are determined to be normal or contain benign findings which do not require further evaluation (beyond recommended annual screening mammography)
- 35% are determined to be probably benign and require closer monitoring and follow up within the next 6 months
- 20% (approximately 2% of all screening mammograms) are shown to be abnormal and require biopsy
- 15% are shown to have cysts (usually using ultrasound) and require no intervention or biopsy

Of those referred for biopsy:

- 65% of the abnormalities are shown to be benign
- 35% of the abnormalities are shown to be cancerous

Based on the request for follow up mammogram within six months it appears you are in the "probably benign" category. If the diagnosis were "normal" you would stay at the 12 month interval for regular mammograms. When interpreting your upcoming mammogram, the radiologist will closely compare your first mammogram to the new one. This will help determine if the asymmetry is a "normal" part of your breast composition, or if it is an abnormality that needs more diagnostic imaging and/or biopsy. If the asymmetry has not changed significantly since the previous mammogram, this usually indicates that it is normal tissue.

For an overview of the breast cancer diagnosis process, please visit www.imaginis.net/breastcancer/breastcancer5.html .

We hope this information is helpful. Please discuss all of these issues in more detail with your physician.

Sincerely,

Imaginis.net Breast Health Team

Helping people ---
--- achieve optimal health (TM)

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: INFORMATION IN THIS MESSAGE, WITHIN THE IMAGINIS.NET WEBSITE OR IN OTHER SITES LINKED TO FROM THE IMAGINIS.NET WEBSITE SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR SELF-TREATMENT. THE INFORMATION FOUND IN THE IMAGINIS.NET WEBSITE AND IN WEB SITES LINKED TO FROM THE IMAGINIS.NET WEBSITE SHOULD BE USED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT BY A MEDICAL DOCTOR. USE OF THIS EMAIL IS SUBJECT TO THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE FOUND ON IMAGINIS.NET AT www.imaginis.net/guestbook/agreement.html SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION IF YOUR CONDITION IS URGENT.

[This message has been edited by Imaginis.net Medical Team (edited 06-09-99).]
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