To retrospectively correlate high-risk proliferative breast lesions (radial scar, atypical lobular hyperplasia, lobular carcinoma in situ and papillary lesions) diagnosed on core biopsy with the definitive histopathological diagnosis obtained after surgical excision or with the follow-up, in order to assess the role of core biopsy in such lesions. To discuss the management of the patient after a core biopsy diagnosis of high-risk proliferative breast lesion.
We evaluated 74 out of 1776 core biopsies consecutively performed on 67 patients. The histopathologic findings were as follows: 11 radial scars (RS), 3 atypical lobular hyperplasias (ALH), 3 lobular carcinomas in situ (LCIS), 57 benign papillary lesions. All patients underwent bilateral mammography, whole-breast ultrasound with a linear-array broadband transducer, and core biopsy with a 14 Gauge needle and a mean number of samples of 5 (range 4-7). Sixty-two of 67 patients, for a total of 69/74 lesions, underwent surgical biopsy despite benign histopathologic findings, mostly because of highly suspicious imaging for malignancy (BIRADS 4-5), whereas 5 patients refused surgery and have been followed up for a least 18 months and are still being followed up (2 with RS, 1 with ADH and 2 with papillary lesions).
Among the core biopsied lesions with a diagnosis of RS (n = 11) pathology revealed one ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) (this case was characterized by granular microcalcifications on mammography and by a mass with irregular margins on ultrasound). Also in the group of ADH (n = 3) pathology revealed one DCIS (lesion not visible on mammography but depicted as a suspicious mass on US). In the group of LCIS (n = 3) pathologists found an invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). Among the benign papillary lesions (n = 57) histopathologic analysis of the surgical specimen revealed 7 malignant lesions (4 papillary carcinomas and 3 DCIS), whose mammographic and ultrasound findings were indistinguishable from benign lesions. Altogether there were 10 false negative results (underestimation) out of 74 core biopsies with a diagnosis of high-risk proliferative breast lesions.
The high rate of histological underestimation after core biopsy (10/74) (13.5%) demands a very careful management of patents with a core biopsy diagnosis of high-risk proliferative breast lesions, especially in the case of RS, lobular neoplasia and papillary lesions. However, the high imaging suspicion for malignancy prompts surgery. It is possible to assume that, when there is a low imaging suspicion for malignancy, when enough tissue has been sampled for pathology and no atypia is found within the lesions, surgery is not mandatory but a very careful follow-up is recommended. We must underline that there is no agreement regarding the quantity of tissue to sample. Vacuum-assisted biopsy may lead to better results, although there is as yet no proof that it can actually replace surgery in this group of lesions, since it seems only to reduce but not abolish the histological underestimation.