Pan African Medical Journal

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Pregnancy related breast diseases in a developing African country: Initial Sonographic Evaluation

AT Adeniji-Sofoluwe, GO Obajimi, MO Obajimi


Benign diseases are more common than malignant diseases in pregnant and lactating women. Fibroadenomas are the most commonly identified
benign breast tumour in pregnant and lactating women. Pregnancy related breast cancer is defined as breast cancer that occurs during pregnancy or within 1 year of delivery. Its incidence is estimated at 1 in 3000 to 1 in 10 000 pregnancies. Several reproductive factors like age at menarche, age at menopause, age at full-term pregnancy, parity, age at any birth and spacing of pregnancies, breast feeding, characteristics of the menstrual cycle, infertility, spontaneous and induced abortions, characteristics of the menstrual cycle and infertility are some of the factors that have been incriminated as risk factors for breast cancer. We sought to describe the predominant breast pattern, sonographic array of pregnancy related breast diseases in women referred to the breast imaging unit in the department of Radiology at the University College Hospital, Ibadan south west Nigeria. Socio-demographic characteristics in these women were also evaluated. Archived images were reviewed and documented and data was analysed with SPSS version 17 and presented with descriptives. In this descriptive study, we retrospectively retrieved the sonomammographic records of 21 women (pregnant or lactating) referred to and imaged in the department of radiology, University college hospital Ibadan, between 2006 and 2013. Diagnostic breast sonograms performed by MO and ATS; Consultant  radiologists with 7-10 years' experience utilized a 7-10 MHz transducer of the General electric GE Logiq P5 machine for the scans. Twenty-one women with ages between 22-42 years (Mean 31.4 ±5.4 SD) pregnant or lactating were referred to the radiology department for sonomammographic  evaluation. Majority of the women were in the 3rd decade. Referral was mainly (11) by family Physicians from the general outpatient clinic, 5 were self-referred, 2 from radiotherapy department, 2 from obstetrics and gynaecology department and 1 from the surgical outpatient clinic. Nineteen (89.5%) were lactating and breastfeeding while 2 (10.5%) were pregnant. Nipple discharge (89.5%) was the predominant presenting complaint in the study. They were all married with the majority attaining menarche at age 14.6±2.1 SD years. Most of the women were multi-parous 17(89.5%) and possessed higher level of Education 17 (81.0%). Twenty (96.0%) women had no previous breast disease while only 1 (4.0%) woman had a positive family history of breast cancer. They weighed between 44-102kg (mean 69.84kg±15.33SD). Their mean height was 159.8cm. Waist hip ratio was between 0.69-0.93 (Mean 0.83). The heterogeneous fibroglandular pattern was predominant in 15 (71.4%) women. Final BIRADS assessment of 2 was most frequent (11/21) 52.4% while 19.0% were assigned to BIRADS categories 0 and 1 (4/21). Histological diagnosis of Invasive ductal  carcinoma was made in the 3 women with final BIRADS of 5 breast diseases found in most pregnant and lactating women were benign. It is important to note that malignant breast lesions can also occur in this group of women who may assume that the changes noted in their breast are due to  lactation.
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