The role of nipple discharge cytology in the diagnosis of breast disease: a study of 1948 nipple discharge smears from 1530 patients.Cytopathology. 2004 Dec; 15(6):326-30.C
In this study a review of 1948 nipple discharge (ND) samples from 1530 patients in the age range of 18-83 years was undertaken to determine whether cytological findings from ND smears could provide useful diagnostic information regarding various breast lesions. The study included 1494 females and 36 males and was carried out during a period of 20 years 8 months. The clinical information in all patients was obtained from clinicians (coauthors), medical records and a review of biopsies in 205 patients who had undergone surgery following the cytodiagnosis. Of the ND samples examined, 1480 were unilateral while 468 were from 234 bilateral ND. The cytodiagnoses were: benign 624, inadequate (despite two to three repeat samples) 492, inflammatory 96, papillary lesion not otherwise specified (NOS) 229, suspicious 22 (21 females, one male) and malignant 67 (63 females, four males). A breast biopsy in the 22 suspicious cases revealed breast carcinoma in 18 cases (females n = 17, male n = 1), atypical ductal hyperplasia (female n = 1), fibroadenoma (female n = 1) and a papilloma in two females. In the 67 cases with a diagnosis of malignancy 65 revealed a breast carcinoma in the biopsy (female n = 62, male n = 3) while one female was diagnosed as fibroadenoma and one male as florid gynaecomastia. In 63 cases (females n = 61; males n = 2) with clinical lumpy areas consistent with the diagnosis of fibrocystic condition in ND, the biopsy confirmed a fibrocystic process. In 53 of 229 cases with ND findings suggestive of a papillary lesion (NOS) the biopsy revealed a papilloma in 41 cases while in 12 cases no lesion was found. In the remaining cases of all the groups only a clinical follow-up and appropriate investigations were performed with no untoward outcome. Based on our study it is felt that cytological examination of ND smears seems to be a reasonably specific method in the diagnosis of malignant and suspicious cases but may be somewhat less specific for other diagnoses.