Human gross cyst breast disease and cystic fluid: Bio-molecular, morphological, and clinical studies

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For more than one and a half century the cystic disease of the breast has been recognized as the most frequent female benign breast lesion. Although some conundrums and controversies exist about the relation between gross cysts and breast cancer, recent evidence suggests that the multidisciplinary study of gross cystic breast disease (GCBD) may be a powerful tool for predicting the natural history of the multifaceted gross cyst pathology. A lot of papers have been published on breast cyst fluids (BCF) concerning biochemical, hormonal and morphological aspects, demonstrating that the intracystic fluid contains a wide variety of components (such as ions, lipids, proteins, enzymes, growth factors and antigens) and suggesting that their profile provides additional knowledge on both physiopathology and etiologic pathways of human gross cystic breast disease. The aim of this overview is the critical evaluation of all data accumulated in the last thirty years, in order to highlight the utility of biochemical and epidemiological studies to identify gross cysts, if any, at higher breast cancer risk.

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