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05.07.2018 | Breast Oncology

Ethical Considerations of Medical Photography in the Management of Breast Disease

Annals of Surgical Oncology
MD, FACS Toan T. Nguyen, MD, FACS Lindi VanderWalde, MD, FACS Emily Bellavance, MD, FACS Thomas Eisenhauer, MD, FACS Tina Hieken, MD, FACS Nathalie Johnson, MD, FACS David I. Kaufman, MD, FACS Jennifer O’Neill, MD Caitlin R. Patten, MD Paige Teller, MD Sarah Tevis, MD, FACS Terry Sarantou, MD, FACS Alyssa Throckmorton



Medical photography has become an important component of the evaluation and management of patients across many specialties. It is increasingly utilized in contemporary practice with modern smartphones and enhanced digital media. Photography can enhance and improve treatment plans and communication between providers and patients. Additionally, photography supplements education, research, and marketing in both print and social media. Ethical and medicolegal standards for medical photography, specifically for patients with breast disease, have not been formally developed to guide medical providers.


To provide guidelines for breast care physicians using medical photography, the Ethics Committee of the American Society of Breast Surgeons presents an updated review of the literature and recommendations for ethical and practical use of photography in patient care.


An extensive PubMed review of articles in English was performed to identify studies and articles published prior to 2018 investigating the use of medical photography in patient care and the ethics of medical photography. After review of the literature, members of the Ethics Committee convened a panel discussion to identify best practices for the use of medical photography in the breast care setting. Results of the literature and panel discussion were then incorporated to provide the content of this article.


The Ethics Committee of the American Society of Breast Surgeons acknowledges that photography of the breast has become an invaluable tool in the delivery of state-of-the-art care to our patients with breast disease, and we encourage the use of this important medium. Physicians must be well informed regarding the concerns associated with medical photography of the breast to optimize its safe and ethical use in clinical practice.

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