Papillary lesions of the breast: To excise or observe?

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Papillary lesions of the breast range from benign to atypical to malignant. Although papillomas without frank cancer are benign, their management remains controversial. When a core needle biopsy of a lesion yields a diagnosis of intraductal papilloma with atypia, excision is generally recommended to rule out a concurrent malignant neoplasm. For intraductal papillomas without atypia, however, recommendations for excision versus observation are variable. The aims of this study are to evaluate the rate of concurrent malignancies for intraductal papilloma diagnosed on core needle biopsy and to assess the long-term risk of developing cancer after the diagnosis of a papillary lesion. This single institution retrospective study analyzed 259 patients that were diagnosed with intraductal papilloma (IDP) by core needle biopsy from 1995 to 2010. Patients were grouped by initial diagnosis into three groups (papilloma without atypia, papilloma with atypia, and papilloma with atypical duct hyperplasia or atypical lobular hyperplasia (ADH/ALH) and followed up for long-term outcomes. After a core needle biopsy showing IDP with atypia or IDP + ADH/ALH, surgical excision yielded a diagnosis of concomitant invasive or ductal in situ cancer in greater that 30% of cases. For intraductal papilloma without atypia, the likelihood of cancer was much lower. Moreover, even with excision, the finding of intraductal papilloma with atypia carries a significant risk of developing cancer long-term, and such patients should be followed carefully and perhaps should be considered for chemoprevention.

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