Research Article

Mammary skin oedema: a new prognostic indicator for breast cancer.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 288 doi: (Published 05 May 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;288:1338
  1. H S Shukla,
  2. I H Gravelle,
  3. L E Hughes,
  4. R G Newcombe,
  5. S Williams


    Mammary skin thickening shown on the mammogram was measured in 220 patients with non-inflammatory breast cancer, and the mean skin oedema was derived by taking the mean of five measurements from separate sites on the breast (upper part, lower part, medial part, lateral part, and areola) after subtracting the corresponding figures from the opposite (normal) breast. The prevalence of appreciable oedema (greater than 0.25 mm) was 70% for tumours less than 1 cm and 100% for tumours more than 3 cm in diameter. This measure of oedema correlated positively and significantly with tumour size and lymph node status. In a minimum of 60 months' follow up patients developing recurrence had significantly higher oedema values. The amount of oedema also predicted recurrence better than lymph node status, tumour size, or tumour stage. Oedema and tumour size, information available preoperatively, provide a simple means of assessing prognosis before definitive treatment.