The term breast asymmetry can be confusing because on one hand, it can mean a physical discrepancy in size between each of a woman’s breasts. In this case, the asymmetry would be visible — either without clothes on, or with clothes on, or both.
Alternatively, “breast asymmetry” is also a term used by doctors and radiologists to indicate the presence of a suspicious white area in a woman’s breast tissue — when viewed in a mammogram report. This area can show up on only one breast and not the other, thus revealing an asymmetry.
Many women worry about both types of breast asymmetry in regards to the possibility of developing breast cancer. Naturally, we worry when anything on our bodies becomes asymmetrical, and the feeling can be very uncomfortable and scary. Not uncommonly, women wonder: “How often is breast asymmetry cancer?”
In this article, we’ll explore what can cause a physical difference in the size or shape of your breasts — or a breast asymmetry on your mammogram report. We’ll also look at what you can do about noncancerous uneven breasts. Breast asymmetry surgery is one viable option.
How Often Is Breast Asymmetry Cancer?
Do Asymmetric Mammographic Findings Mean a Breast Cancer Diagnosis?
Breast asymmetry is certainly something radiologists examine in your mammogram results. However, only rarely does a breast asymmetry on a diagnostic mammogram report mean breast cancer. Usually, it’s an anomaly that’s simply caused the breast density to be different in one breast. This dense breast tissue shows up as white on a mammogram report.
At the same time, doctors like to be sure that any dense breast tissue (often labeled a focal asymmetry) is not worrisome, as it is potentially possible for a breast asymmetry to lead to a breast cancer diagnosss. According to the American Cancer Society, if asymmetric breast tissue is found, “more imaging tests will likely be needed to make sure there is no breast cancer in this area.”
Visibly Uneven Breasts
Likewise, breast asymmetry that is a visible difference in breast shape and/or size can cause some women to worry about developing breast cancer too. Fortunately, the response from doctors is overall positive.
Typically, a physical breast size or shape difference is not a breast cancer risk. Of course, it’s good to check your risk of developing breast cancer (lifestyle risk factors, genetic risk factors, etc.). Some women are at increased risk for breast disease.
As long as any further testing or labs reveal no presence of breast cancer or underlying conditions that must be treated, some women who have size and shape discrepancies in their breasts may choose to undergo breast asymmetry surgery.
What Is Breast Asymmetry Surgery?
Breast asymmetry surgery is a personalized cosmetic procedure that can correct breast asymmetry in healthy women. As long as any breast cancer risk has been ruled out (if applicable), most women qualify for this surgery, which can alleviate discomfort associated with breast asymmetry.
Keep in mind that physical breast asymmetry does not mean breast asymmetry on a mammogram. You can have unevenly shaped or sized breasts and not have an asymmetric mammographic finding (or vice versa).
Breast Asymmetry Surgery Options
If you are thinking about breast asymmetry surgery, your procedure will depend on your unique goals. Some women may opt to have their smaller breast enlarged with a breast augmentation (implants) or fat transfer, for example. If you want to take your larger breast down to a smaller size, we can also perform a breast reduction on one (or both) breasts.
Finally, if the position of one or both breasts (how they sit on your chest wall and project outward) is what’s bothering you, a breast lift may help. This procedure can adjust the shape and positioning of your breasts while only using your own natural breast tissue.
FAQ: Breast Asymmetry and Breast Cancer
Does asymmetry mean mass in a mammogram report?
No, if breast imaging reporting indicates an asymmetry, this is referring to the density of your breast tissue, not an indication of a mass (or definite breast cancer risk). It’s not a referral to the size or shape of your breasts either.
How often is breast asymmetry on mammogram a cancer?
While asymmetric mammographic findings of breast tissue based on a mammographic breast density test may reveal an asymmetry, it is rare for such findings to automatically indicate developing breast cancer.
What is the next step after finding asymmetry in a mammogram?
Your medical team will want to find out why there is a discrepancy in the scanned images of your breasts. This usually means performing additional tests — sometimes another mammogram report or sometimes an ultrasound, breast MRI, breast biopsy, or other type of breast cancer screening. It’s not uncommon that, once additional breast imaging reporting is performed on the dense breast tissue, the results end up showing as normal.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
The main symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Redness of the breast tissue and skin
- Changes to the nipple appearance
- Puckering on the breast skin
- Breast lumps
- Nipple scaliness
- Thicker skin (abnormal)
- Breast or nipple ulcers
- Nipple discharge
Additionally, it’s worth noting that some women are at slightly higher risk to develop breast cancer because of their family history. They may also be more predisposed for developing asymmetric breast tissue in general. These women should have mammogram screening and breast imaging performing regularly to ensure their breast cancer risk is low.
Book Your Consultation With Dr. Sieber
Most patients with breast asymmetry will not develop breast cancer as a result. A real breast cancer diagnosis is generally preceded by other symptoms (sudden breast changes, breast lesions, lumps, etc.) and known risk factors, not only by a change in breast density. If you have concerns, however, please do not hesitate to contact your doctor and request additional breast cancer screening tests.
If you have physically uneven breasts and you would like to learn more about your options for breast asymmetry surgery, contact Sieber Plastic Surgery today to schedule a consultation appointment with double board certified plastic surgeon Dr. David Sieber.