Background: Pathologic breast conditions are rare in childhood and adolescence. The spectrum of breast disease in the pediatric age group is different from that in adults, and most lesions are benign
Objectives: To describe the causes and characteristics of breast asymmetry in adolescents with normal endocrine profiles and sexual development.
Methods: The files of patients with a diagnosis of breast asymmetry referred to a tertiary pediatric center from 1990 to 2007 were reviewed for history and findings on physical examination with or without imaging, treatment and outcome.
Results: Eleven patients aged 12.5 to 18 years were identified. The cause of the breast asymmetry was traced to unpreventable medical factors in eight patients (physiologic, Poland anomaly, scleroderma), preventable/iatrogenic factors in two patients (chest tissue biopsy, thoracic drain), and possible combined medical-iatrogenic factors in one patient (scoliosis treated by a body brace). All patients were referred for breast reconstruction after full breast development.
Conclusions: Severe breast asymmetry in adolescence may be due to congenital factors, diseases involving the breast tissue, or to the effects of medical treatment, and may have severe adverse psychological and social implications. To prevent iatrogenic breast asymmetry, physicians should be made aware of the sensitivity of the breast tissue and should avoid unnecessary tests/procedures that involve the chest wall. In most cases a precise medical history and physical examination can differentiate between physiologic and non-physiologic causes.