Most women do not have even (symmetrical) breasts. One breast is bigger than the other; one hangs lower. This is more commonplace than having symmetrical breasts. In fact, only one percent has perfectly even breasts.
Asymmetrical breasts are a pesky problem women deal with, finding the best bra to camouflage the discrepancy; however, women with uneven breasts need to know those with diverse sized breasts are more prone to acquire breast cancer.
The bigger the difference in breast size the bigger the risk of cancer. Women diagnosed with breast cancer have more breast size unevenness than those who don’t have the disease.
A study revealed the probability of acquiring breast cancer increased by 50 percent for each 100ml expansion in breast size difference. For every 3.38 ounce increase in breast unevenness, there can be a 50 percent increase in the risk of cancer, according to Breast Cancer Research journal (2006.)
Uneven breasts alone do not necessarily mean a woman will get breast cancer. Breast asymmetry is taken into consideration in context of the female’s complete profile including her family and reproductive history, her age and other influences
One breast cancer symptom women do need to be aware of is breasts that are relatively close in size but suddenly change in shape, becoming lop-sided. This can be an indicator of cancer. A noticed change in size in a breast or breasts may be the result of a cystic or solid growth, which makes the breast bigger. Contact your physician ASAP.
When breasts are a dissimilar size this is often a genetic tendency or it can be the result when paired organs, such as breast, start growing or stop growing at different times, which results in asymmetry. Not only can two breasts be different sizes but different shapes.
Get familiar with your breasts
Pay attention to your breasts. This is the best preventive action a woman can take. Know what they normally feel and look like. You know your own normal which means you are the first to notice when something isn’t looking or feeling normal. Regularly do self-breast exams.
Perform self-breast exams
Perform the breast exam a week following your menstrual period. Do it lying down because breast tissues spread out when you are reclining and this enables you to easier detect any changes.
Put the right arm behind the head and use the three middle fingers on the left hand to feel for any variations in the breast tissue in the right breast. Moving the fingers up and down (vertical, check all areas of the breast. Feel for changes (lumps, etc.) in the collar bone and neck. Do the same thing on the left breast, using the right hand.
Use your eyes as well as your fingers. Check for dimpling, skin irritation, unusual swelling or lumps, nipple pain or inward turn of the nipple, which is called retraction. Is there any encrusted skin or redness of the breast skin or nipple? A discharge from the nipple (aside from breast milk) is not normal.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that a doctor needs to be consulted if a woman (or man) feels something in a breast that doesn’t feel like the tissue in the rest of the breast.
Not every breast irregularity is breast cancer so don’t panic. In fact, breasts often feel uneven prior to a woman’s menstrual period. As people age, breasts can change. Alterations also occur during pregnancy and menopause and when a woman is taking birth control pills.
Your best defense
The best defense against breast cancer is familiarity with your breasts so you get the jump on it if you do notice a change in size, shape or in the skin on the breast or nipple. Doing regular self-breast exams is a gift you give to yourself. Many women have detected cancer early on via self-breast exams, which enabled them to nip it in the bud and have a successful outcome.
About the Contributor: Jamie Pratt is a contributing writer for The Breast Cancer Society, Inc. — a comprehensive resource guide covering breast cancer information, facts, statistics and other pertinent information. Learn more about their cause and join the community that has already helped thousands of breast cancer patients and survivors.