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Diagnosis and Management of Benign, Atypical, and Indeterminate Breast Lesions Detected on Core Needle Biopsy

      Abstract

      Imaging abnormalities detected by mammographic screening often lead to diagnostic evaluations, with suspicious abnormalities subjected to image-guided core needle biopsy (CNB) to exclude malignancy. Most CNBs reveal benign pathological alterations, termed benign breast disease (BBD). Adoption of CNB presents challenges with pathologic classification of breast abnormalities and management of patients with benign or atypical histological findings. Patient management and counseling after CNB diagnosis of BBD depends on postbiopsy determination of radiologic-pathologic concordancy. Communication between radiologists and pathologists is crucial in patient management. Management is dependent on the histological type of BBD. Patients with concordant pathologic imaging results can be reassured of benign biopsy findings and advised about the future risk of developing breast cancer. Surgical consultation is advised for patients with discordant findings, symptomatic patients, and high-risk lesions. This review highlights benign breast lesions that are encountered on CNB and summarizes management strategies. For this review, we conducted a search of PubMed, with no date limitations, and used the following search terms (or a combination of terms): atypical ductal hyperplasia, atypical hyperplasia, atypical lobular hyperplasia, benign breast disease, cellular fibroepithelial lesions, columnar cell lesions, complex sclerosing lesion, core needle biopsy, fibroadenomas, flat epithelial atypia, lobular carcinoma in situ, lobular neoplasia, mucocele-like lesions, phyllodes tumor, pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia, radial scar, and vascular lesions. The selection of references included in this review was based on study relevance and quality. We used additional articles culled from the bibliographies of retrieved articles to examine the published evidence for risk factors of BBD.

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      ADH (atypical ductal hyperplasia), AH (atypical hyperplasia), ALH (atypical lobular hyperplasia), BBD (benign breast disease), BI-RADS (Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System), BSIP (benign solitary intraductal papilloma), CCL (columnar cell lesion), CNB (core needle biopsy), DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), FEA (flat epithelial atypia), LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ), LN (lobular neoplasia), MLL (mucocele-like lesion), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), NP (nonproliferative), PASH (pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia), PD (proliferative disease), RR (relative risk), U/S (ultrasound)
      Article Highlights
      • All core needle biopsy (CNB) pathology results must be correlated with the prebiopsy breast imaging to ascertain concordance.
      • Atypical ductal hyperplasia detected by CNB warrants surgical consultation for excisional biopsy.
      • Surgical consultation should be obtained for patients with lobular neoplasia detected by CNB.
      • Excision of phyllodes tumors or cellular fibroepithelial lesions detected by CNB is advised.
      • Atypical hyperplasia and lobular carcinoma in situ warrant discussion of risk-reducing strategies with patients as part of their overall management.
      Approximately 10% of women in the United States undergoing screening mammography will be recalled for additional diagnostic breast imaging. Of these, 8% to 10% will have findings that prompt a breast biopsy, typically an image-directed, core needle biopsy (CNB). This algorithm yields a breast cancer diagnosis in 4 of every 1000 women who undergo screening mammography.
      • Morton M.J.
      • Whaley D.H.
      • Brandt K.R.
      • Amrami K.K.
      Screening mammograms: interpretation with computer-aided detection–prospective evaluation.
      Image-guided (stereotactic, ultrasonographic, or magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]) CNB has become the standard for obtaining pathologic diagnosis in patients with clinically or image-detected breast abnormalities.
      • Bruening W.
      • Fontanarosa J.
      • Tipton K.
      • Treadwell J.R.
      • Launders J.
      • Schoelles K.
      Systematic review: comparative effectiveness of core-needle and open surgical biopsy to diagnose breast lesions.
      The objective of this review was to discuss the current evidence and recommendations regarding the management of various benign breast disease (BBD) lesions identified by CNB on the basis of histological type of the lesion and concordance between imaging and pathology findings. For this purpose, we conducted a search of PubMed, with no date limitations, and used the following search terms (or a combination of terms): atypical ductal hyperplasia, atypical hyperplasia, atypical lobular hyperplasia, benign breast disease, cellular fibroepithelial lesions, columnar cell lesions, complex sclerosing lesion, core needle biopsy, fibroadenomas, fat necrosis, flat epithelial atypia, lobular carcinoma in situ, lobular neoplasia, mammary fibromatosis, mucocele-like lesions, phyllodes tumor, pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia, radial scar, and vascular lesions. The selection of references included in this review was based on study relevance and quality. We also used additional articles that were identified from the bibliographies of the retrieved articles to examine the published evidence for the risk factors of BBD.

      Significance of Pathology and Imaging Concordance Reports

      Screening mammographic findings such as calcifications, masses, architectural distortion, and focal asymmetries often lead to diagnostic workup, which may include additional imaging such as ultrasound (U/S) and MRI. The Breast Imaging and Reporting Data System (BI-RADS) is used to provide an overall assessment of the lesion. BI-RADS 4 lesions are considered suggestive of malignancy, and biopsy is recommended. This category can be subdivided into 3 subsets: 4A, low suspicion; 4B, moderate suspicion; and 4C, high suspicion. BI-RADS 5 lesions are highly suggestive of malignancy.

      The ACR Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS®), Fourth Edition - 2003. American College of Radiology (ACR) Web site. http://www.acr.org/∼/media/ACR/Documents/PDF/QualitySafety/Resources/BIRADS/MammoBIRADS.pdf. Accessed June 3, 2013.

      All CNB pathology results must be correlated with the prebiopsy BI-RADS impression. This is defined by the radiologist as concordant or discordant. Any lesion with a benign pathologic result but having a prebiopsy classification of BI-RADS 4 (particularly 4B or 4C) or BI-RADS 5 is considered discordant until proven otherwise. Close discussion with the pathologist is required to determine whether there is a definite explanation for the mammographic finding, particularly of architectural distortion or mass.
      A benign finding may also be considered discordant even if calcifications are seen pathologically, because a sampling error may miss the most suspicious calcifications, especially if there is a large area of calcifications. Either a repeat CNB should be performed in a different area of the calcifications or further imaging should be performed (eg, U/S to look for an associated mass, MRI, or molecular breast imaging) to determine the most suspicious area from which to take a biopsy sample. Some benign CNB diagnoses require multidisciplinary input from a surgeon, a radiologist, and a pathologist to formulate a management plan.

      Benign Breast Disease

      Most benign findings on CNB correspond to 1 or more components of a pathological spectrum of changes that are collectively termed BBD. On the basis of the presence and degree of epithelial hyperplasia, various BBD lesions are broadly classified as nonproliferative (NP), approximately 65% of the total; proliferative disease (PD), approximately 30% of the total; or PD with atypia, approximately 5% to 8% of the total.
      • Hartmann L.C.
      • Sellers T.A.
      • Frost M.H.
      • et al.
      Benign breast disease and the risk of breast cancer.
      The histological manifestations of BBD are protean. Biopsies often contain multiple lesions that represent a mixture of NP and PD. Clinical presentation is highly variable, and many patients are asymptomatic, although the mean age of BBD diagnosis (45-50 years) is considerably less than that of breast cancer diagnosis. In general, the histological lesions comprising BBD present radiographically as masses, asymmetries, architectural distortion, microcalcifications, or combinations thereof. Table 1 summarizes specific histological types of BBD by the most characteristic presenting mammographic feature and the relative risk (RR) for subsequent breast cancer. The risks here are broadly grouped according to histological findings: NP RR, 1.2 to 1.4; PD RR, 1.7 to 2.1; or PD with atypia , RR = 4 or more. Table 2 lists recommendations for the management of breast lesions detected on CNB.
      Table 1Summary of Benign Breast Disease Lesions by Histology, Relative Breast Cancer Risk, and Mammographic Abnormality
      Category (relative cancer risk)Mammographic findings
      Nonproliferative (RR, 1.2-1.4×)
       Simple cystCircumscribed mass
       FibrosisMass, focal asymmetry
       Fibroadenoma (simple)Circumscribed mass
       Columnar alteration (simple)Calcifications
       Apocrine metaplasia (simple)Mass, focal asymmetry
       Mild ductal hyperplasiaCalcifications
      Proliferative disease (RR, 1.7-2.1×)
       Usual ductal hyperplasiaCalcifications
       Sclerosing adenosisCalcifications, focal asymmetry, architectural distortion
       Columnar hyperplasiaCalcifications
       PapillomaMass, calcifications
       Radial scarArchitectural distortion
      Proliferative disease with atypia (RR, ≥4×)
       Atypical lobular hyperplasiaNone, calcifications
       Lobular carcinoma in situNone, calcifications
       Atypical ductal hyperplasiaCalcifications
      Unclear risk
       Mucocele-like tumorCalcifications, mass
       Apocrine atypiaCalcifications, mass
       Secretory atypiaCalcifications
      RR = relative risk.
      Table 2Management of Breast Lesions Identified on Core Needle Biopsy
      Breast lesionManagementSurveillance
      Atypical ductal hyperplasiaSurgical consultation with excisionCBE every 6-12 mo; annual mammogram
      Lobular neoplasia, ALH/LCISSurgical consultationCBE every 6-12 mo; annual mammogram
      Flat epithelial atypiaSurgical consultationCBE every 6-12 mo; annual mammogram
      PapillomasSurgical consultation for lesions with atypia, size >10 mm, multiple or peripheralCBE every 12 mo; annual mammogram
      Radial scar/complex sclerosing lesion<10 mm: observation if adequately sampled

      >10 mm: surgical consultation
      If excised, annual CBE and mammogram
      FibroadenomaSurgical consultation if atypical features or enlargingAnnual CBE and mammogram
      Complex fibroadenomaObservationAnnual CBE and mammogram
      Sclerosing adenosisObservationAnnual CBE and mammogram
      Fat necrosisObservationAnnual CBE and mammogram
      Columnar cell hyperplasiaObservationAnnual CBE and annual mammogram
      Phyllodes tumorSurgical consultationCBE every 12 mo

      Annual mammogram
      Desmoid tumor/mammary fibromatosisSurgical consultationCBE every 12 mo

      Annual mammogram
      PASHSurgical consultation if large or symptomaticAnnual CBE and mammogram
      Apocrine metaplasiaSurgical consultation if atypia present or discordantAnnual CBE and mammogram if excised
      ALH = atypical lobular hyperplasia; CBE = clinical breast examination; LCIS = lobular carcinoma in situ; PASH = pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia.
      Most experts believe that PD and PD with atypia represent early stages in the complex tumorigenesis of at least some breast cancers. This is based in part on large cohort studies that demonstrate increased breast cancer incidence among women who have undergone a benign breast biopsy (compared with population controls).
      • Page D.L.
      • Dupont W.D.
      • Rogers L.W.
      • Rados M.S.
      Atypical hyperplastic lesions of the female breast: a long-term follow-up study.
      Using standardized incidence ratios based on long-term follow-up data, these studies calculate RRs (Table 1) for the future development of breast cancer.
      • Hartmann L.C.
      • Sellers T.A.
      • Frost M.H.
      • et al.
      Benign breast disease and the risk of breast cancer.
      Breast cancer risk in women with BBD applies to both breasts and persists after 20 years of follow-up.

      Atypical Hyperplasia

      Atypical hyperplasia (AH) may present in biopsy material over a broad age range, averaging 48 to 52 years. Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH) and atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH) confer a similar degree of RR of breast cancer, approximately 4-fold increased risk compared with age-matched women. Molecular studies suggest that AH may represent clonal neoplastic proliferations, suggesting that these atypias are nonobligate precursors to cancer.
      • Lakhani S.R.
      • Collins N.
      • Stratton M.R.
      • Sloane J.P.
      Atypical ductal hyperplasia of the breast: clonal proliferation with loss of heterozygosity on chromosomes 16q and 17p.
      In affected patients, approximately 40% of the subsequent cancers develop in the contralateral breast.
      • Hartmann L.C.
      • Sellers T.A.
      • Frost M.H.
      • et al.
      Benign breast disease and the risk of breast cancer.
      As such, AH of the breast represents hybrid lesions, implying both a “field effect” manifestation of increased constitutional breast cancer risk as well as a potential direct precursor of breast cancer.

      Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia

      Atypical ductal hyperplasia is defined as a localized intraductal proliferation having some but not all microscopic features of (low-grade) ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). It is usually associated with, or near, suspicious calcifications that are targeted by CNB. Atypical ductal hyperplasia comprises a considerable morphologic spectrum that poses a challenge for the pathologist because it may be difficult to distinguish usual duct hyperplasia at one end of the spectrum from low-grade DCIS at the other end of the spectrum. Histologically, duct spaces involved by ADH contain an architecturally complex proliferation of monotonous luminal-type cells forming bridging structures and “crisp” secondary lumens (Figure 1). Atypical ductal hyperplasia is distinguished from low-grade cribriform-type DCIS by using a combination of qualitative and quantitative criteria: generally, there is less cytological atypia in ADH than in DCIS. In examples of severe ADH, pathologic distinction from DCIS is made by noting that distribution is limited to fewer than 3 contiguous ducts or a size less than 0.2 cm.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1Screening mammogram detected calcifications in a 50-year-old woman. Craniocaudal (A) and true lateral magnification mammograms (B) show a cluster of amorphous calcifications in the 6 o'clock position of the right breast (arrows). (C) Targeted calcifications show a duct (arrow) that contains an architecturally complex “cribriform” proliferation of the epithelium characteristic of atypical ductal hyperplasia (200×). (D) At higher magnification (400×), the cells comprising the proliferation have monotonous nuclei and are evenly spaced. Secondary lumens have a “punched out” appearance.
      Owing to limited sampling associated with CNB, it is not always possible to use quantitative criteria for distinguishing ADH from low-grade DCIS. It is thus logical that approximately 10% to 20% of ADH cases diagnosed on CNB are “upgraded” to DCIS or invasive carcinoma on subsequent excision. Not surprisingly, upgraded cases are those with more worrisome pathology in the biopsy.
      • Ely K.A.
      • Carter B.A.
      • Jensen R.A.
      • Simpson J.F.
      • Page D.L.
      Core biopsy of the breast with atypical ductal hyperplasia: a probabilistic approach to reporting.
      Many such “upgraded” cases no doubt reflect low-grade DCIS cases that were minimally sampled by CNB such that pathologic interpretation was equivocal. Given this information, it is obvious that the correlation of the findings in CNB and subsequent excision is critical to appropriate final histological diagnosis of cases with ADH. The reported upstaging rates of ADH to DCIS or invasive carcinoma range from 11.5% to 62%.
      • McGhan L.J.
      • Pockaj B.A.
      • Wasif N.
      • Giurescu M.E.
      • McCullough A.E.
      • Gray R.J.
      Atypical ductal hyperplasia on core biopsy: an automatic trigger for excisional biopsy?.
      Surgical consultation to discuss excisional biopsy is therefore recommended for CNB with the diagnosis of ADH.

      Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia and Lobular Carcinoma In Situ—Lobular Neoplasia

      Atypical lobular hyperplasia and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) are defined by the presence of cells exhibiting characteristic “lobular neoplasia” (LN) cytological features. The LN phenotype is nearly always accompanied, and indeed is caused, by decreased or absent expression of E-cadherin, a plasma membrane cell adhesion molecule. Like ADH, ALH may have a considerable spectrum of histological appearances. The cellular populations of ALH are monomorphic and recognizable by their tendency to distend lobular acini and spread into adjacent terminal ducts. There are no distinctive imaging findings associated with LN. Hence, LN is often diagnosed as incidental findings in CNB performed to assess microcalcifications or masses associated with other lesions. Calcifications may however be present within the areas of LN, especially in LCIS, and are therefore concordant.
      • Page D.L.
      • Dupont W.D.
      • Rogers L.W.
      • Rados M.S.
      Atypical hyperplastic lesions of the female breast: a long-term follow-up study.
      Atypical lobular hyperplasia and LCIS are composed of similar cellular populations; they are distinguished using quantitative criteria (ie, the degree to which involved lobules are distended and architecture effaced).
      Early literature emphasized the frequent presence of underlying malignancy in patients with LN on CNB, and thus diagnostic excisional biopsy was recommended for these patients. However, these series were enriched with patients who had inadequately sampled suspicious masses or calcifications. Subsequent studies have shown that diagnostic excisional biopsy does not yield a substantial rate of malignant diagnoses in ALH cases with benign imaging findings.
      • Rendi M.H.
      • Dintzis S.M.
      • Lehman C.D.
      • Calhoun K.E.
      • Allison K.H.
      Lobular in-situ neoplasia on breast core needle biopsy: imaging indication and pathologic extent can identify which patients require excisional biopsy.
      In cases in which there is clear radiologic-pathologic concordance and no unassessed suspicious lesions on imaging, surveillance is a reasonable management option for ALH.
      • Shah-Khan M.G.
      • Geiger X.J.
      • Reynolds C.
      • Jakub J.W.
      • Deperi E.R.
      • Glazebrook K.N.
      Long-term follow-up of lobular neoplasia (atypical lobular hyperplasia/lobular carcinoma in situ) diagnosed on core needle biopsy.
      Insufficient data exist to support observation for cases of LCIS, and surgical consultation is recommended.
      • Shah-Khan M.G.
      • Geiger X.J.
      • Reynolds C.
      • Jakub J.W.
      • Deperi E.R.
      • Glazebrook K.N.
      Long-term follow-up of lobular neoplasia (atypical lobular hyperplasia/lobular carcinoma in situ) diagnosed on core needle biopsy.
      Surveillance should include regular breast self-awareness, clinical breast examinations, and annual mammography. Screening MRI is not routinely advised. Breast cancer risk-reducing medications in the form of selective estrogen receptor modulators (eg, tamoxifen and raloxifene) or an aromatase inhibitor (eg, exemestane) should be considered for women at an elevated risk due to AH.
      • Anderson B.O.
      • Calhoun K.E.
      • Rosen E.L.
      Evolving concepts in the management of lobular neoplasia.
      • Vogel V.G.
      • Costantino J.P.
      • Wickerham D.L.
      • et al.
      Effects of tamoxifen vs raloxifene on the risk of developing invasive breast cancer and other disease outcomes: the NSABP Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR) P-2 trial.
      • Goss P.E.
      • Ingle J.N.
      • Alés-Martínez J.E.
      • et al.
      Exemestane for breast-cancer prevention in postmenopausal women.

      Apocrine Proliferative Lesions

      Apocrine proliferative lesions are uncommonly associated with relevant atypia. Apocrine atypia is defined by the presence of a 3-fold variation in nuclear size or by the formation of cribriformlike structures in which cells have nuclear atypia. It is most often associated with sclerosing adenosis or complex sclerosing lesions. When present, this can be extremely difficult to distinguish from low-grade apocrine DCIS in CNB samples. Excisional biopsy is recommended in cases of apocrine atypia to rule out malignancy.
      • Guray M.
      • Sahin A.A.
      Benign breast diseases: classification, diagnosis, and management.

      Columnar Cell Lesions

      Columnar cell lesions (CCLs), formerly known as “blunt duct adenosis,” are a ubiquitous and heterogeneous set of lesions characterized by reduplication and microcystic change involving lobular acini. To correlate with risk status, CCLs have recently been classified into subsets: columnar cell change, columnar cell hyperplasia, and flat epithelial atypia (FEA). They are composed of cells that demonstrate abnormal polarization, resulting in a columnar (vs cuboidal) shape. As a group, CCLs are characterized by highly elevated estrogen receptor expression and increased proliferative rate: they are thus thought to have some as yet unknown relevance to early stages of breast cancer progression. As with sclerosing adenosis, CCLs are often associated with calcifications; however, the appearance is often “pleomorphic.” Columnar cell lesions are thus a common finding in the setting of mammographic calcifications.
      • Schnitt S.J.
      • Vincent-Salomon A.
      Columnar cell lesions of the breast.
      • Kim M.J.
      • Kim E.K.
      • Oh K.K.
      • Park B.W.
      • Kim H.
      Columnar cell lesions of the breast: mammographic and US features.
      Simple columnar cell change is considered nonneoplastic, while columnar cell hyperplasia is thought to behave as a form of PD. When columnar cell hyperplasia is identified on CNB, assuming the mammographic calcifications were included in the biopsy specimen, there is no need for surgical consultation.

      Flat Epithelial Atypia

      Flat epithelial atypia is a form of CCL that exhibits by definition nuclear cytologic features akin to ADH but differs from it by lacking architectural complexity.
      • Solorzano S.
      • Mesurolle B.
      • Omeroglu A.
      • et al.
      Flat epithelial atypia of the breast: pathological-radiological correlation.
      Accumulating pathologic and molecular evidence suggests that FEA may be an early precursor to low-grade breast carcinomas.
      • Bombonati A.
      • Sgroi D.C.
      The molecular pathology of breast cancer progression.
      • Aroner S.A.
      • Collins L.C.
      • Schnitt S.J.
      • Connolly J.L.
      • Colditz G.A.
      • Tamimi R.M.
      Columnar cell lesions and subsequent breast cancer risk: a nested case-control study.
      This is supported by the frequent presence (∼30%) of ALH or ADH in excisional biopsies that show FEA. Cohort studies defining the risk association in women with FEA are lacking; as yet, there are no data to suggest that they represent a high-risk index lesion. When FEA is identified on CNB, excisional biopsy reveals ADH, LCIS, DCIS, or invasive carcinoma in approximately 5% to 15% of the patients. Appropriate breast cancer risk assessment and counseling on the basis of the final surgical pathology results are advised. At present, there are insufficient data to provide evidence-based recommendations for patients with FEA alone with respect to monitoring or risk reduction.

      Papillary Lesions

      Papillomas are distinguished from other complex ductal epithelial proliferations by the consistent presence of an arborescent fibrovascular stalk that is lined contiguously by the myoepithelium (Figure 2). Collectively, papillomas account for at least 10% of benign breast tumors. They are a heterogeneous group that includes benign intraductal solitary papillomas (BSIPs), atypical papillomas, and multiple papillomas.
      • Bernik S.F.
      • Troob S.
      • Ying B.L.
      • et al.
      Papillary lesions of the breast diagnosed by core needle biopsy: 71 cases with surgical follow-up.
      • Muttarak M.
      • Lerttumnongtum P.
      • Chaiwun B.
      • Peh W.C.
      Spectrum of papillary lesions of the breast: clinical, imaging, and pathologic correlation.
      In small or fragmented samples, distinguishing benign papillary lesions from papillary carcinoma may be problematic. In this scenario, pathologists often use special stains to highlight myoepithelial cells (eg, p63, calponin, and actin) in benign lesions. A considerable proportion of ADH (15%) may arise in or involve a papilloma; this creates a problematic interpretive challenge for pathologists.
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Figure 2Screening mammogram detected mass in a 66-year-old woman. (A) Magnification true lateral view of the left breast shows a circumscribed subareolar mass (arrow) containing heterogeneously coarse calcifications. (B) Sonogram of the left subareolar region demonstrates an irregular isoechoic mass containing echogenic calcifications (arrow) with posterior shadowing intimately associated with a nondistended duct (open arrow). (C) 40 x magnification histological section showing a duct that is filled and distended by an arborizing epithelial proliferation supported by a fibrovascular stalk. (D) Higher magnification images showing epithelium growing on collagenized fibrovascular stalks. Microcalcifications are present.

      Benign Solitary Intraductal Papillomas

      Clinically, BSIPs are typically subareolar lesions detected by palpation or screening mammogram or on U/S evaluation performed for serous or bloody nipple discharge with which they are often associated. Mammography may show a circumscribed subareolar mass and/or a cluster of calcifications.
      • Muttarak M.
      • Lerttumnongtum P.
      • Chaiwun B.
      • Peh W.C.
      Spectrum of papillary lesions of the breast: clinical, imaging, and pathologic correlation.
      Ultrasound may demonstrate an intraductal mass, an intracystic mass, or a solid mass.
      Upstaging after CNB of a BSIP with benign findings is reported to range from 0% to 5.9%.
      • Bernik S.F.
      • Troob S.
      • Ying B.L.
      • et al.
      Papillary lesions of the breast diagnosed by core needle biopsy: 71 cases with surgical follow-up.
      • Swapp R.E.
      • Glazebrook K.N.
      • Jones K.N.
      • et al.
      Management of benign intraductal solitary papilloma diagnosed on core needle biopsy.
      This variability reflects differences in patient selection, associated imaging findings, and study design. In addition, papillary lesions are diagnostically challenging for pathologists because atypical features can be histologically subtle owing to the fragmentation of CNB specimens.
      • Jakate K.
      • De Brot M.
      • Goldberg F.
      • Muradali D.
      • O'Malley F.P.
      • Mulligan A.M.
      Papillary lesions of the breast: impact of breast pathology subspecialization on core biopsy and excision diagnoses.
      Recent studies have advocated for observation after CNB of BSIPs with low-suspicion imaging features. Swapp et al
      • Swapp R.E.
      • Glazebrook K.N.
      • Jones K.N.
      • et al.
      Management of benign intraductal solitary papilloma diagnosed on core needle biopsy.
      reviewed a cohort of 224 patients with radiographically concordant BSIPs without associated high-risk lesions or concurrent malignancy. Seventy-seven women (34%) underwent surgical excision with no atypical or malignant upgrades. Of the remaining 147 women diagnosed with BSIPs on CNB, 47 (32%) were lost to follow-up and 100 (78%) were observed. After an average of 36 months of observation without surgical excision (range, 4.8-93.8 months), the 100 patients observed were noted to have clinically and radiologically stable findings. Those patients with papillary lesions associated with mass lesions, or with discordance between imaging and pathology findings, should be referred for consideration of surgical excision.

      Atypical Papillomas

      Atypical papillomas have been associated with a 67% risk of associated malignancy and should be excised.
      • Sydnor M.K.
      • Wilson J.D.
      • Hijaz T.A.
      • Massey H.D.
      • Shaw de Paredes E.S.
      Underestimation of the presence of breast carcinoma in papillary lesions initially diagnosed at core-needle biopsy.

      Multiple and/or Peripheral Papillomas

      Multiple papillomas are a special subset of breast papillomas characterized by numerous papillomas causing masslike lesions associated with complex sclerosing lesions and AH. Multiple papillomas may be detected by palpation or screening mammogram and typically are present within a more peripheral location within the breast. They may appear as multiple intracystic or complex masses on U/S. Peripheral or multiple papillomas may recur and may represent a distinct category of BBD.
      • Muttarak M.
      • Lerttumnongtum P.
      • Chaiwun B.
      • Peh W.C.
      Spectrum of papillary lesions of the breast: clinical, imaging, and pathologic correlation.
      Multiple papillomas or peripheral papillomas larger than 1.5 cm should be surgically removed given their associated risk of malignancy.
      • Georgian-Smith D.
      • Lawton T.J.
      Controversies on the management of high-risk lesions at core biopsy from a radiology/pathology perspective.
      • Harjit K.
      • Willsher P.C.
      • Bennett M.
      • Jackson L.R.
      • Metcalf C.
      • Saunders C.M.
      Multiple papillomas of the breast: is current management adequate?.

      Radial Scar and Complex Sclerosing Lesion

      Radial scars are tumorlike lesions that contain a stellate nidus of dense elastotic collagen associated with entrapped epithelial elements and/or other proliferative lesions such as sclerosing adenosis. Complex sclerosing lesions are radial scars greater than 1 cm in greatest dimension. Architecturally distorted glandular tissue in these lesions may be difficult to distinguish from low-grade carcinoma in histological sections.
      • Shaheen R.
      • Schimmelpenninck C.A.
      • Stoddart L.
      • Raymond H.
      • Slanetz P.J.
      Spectrum of diseases presenting as architectural distortion on mammography: multimodality radiologic imaging with pathologic correlation.
      In addition, entrapped glandular tissue within radial scars may contain atypical or malignant cells in a focal or patchy distribution.
      • Krishnamurthy S.
      • Bevers T.
      • Kuerer H.
      • Yang W.T.
      Multidisciplinary considerations in the management of high-risk breast lesions.
      Mammographically, these lesions often appear as architectural distortion while sonographically they appear as irregular hypoechoic masses with posterior shadowing.
      • Bunting D.M.
      • Steel J.R.
      • Holgate C.S.
      • Watkins R.M.
      Long term follow-up and risk of breast cancer after a radial scar or complex sclerosing lesion has been identified in a benign open breast biopsy.
      Their appearance mimics breast cancer on imaging, thus requiring CNB to rule out malignancy (Figure 3). The surgical upgrade to malignant findings can be 0% to 12% with involvement of radial scars by atypia or in situ or invasive carcinoma. The upgrades may be due in part to inadequate sampling by CNB. It has been suggested that numerous CNB samples using a 14-G vacuum-assisted device be obtained for histological examination to exclude malignancy.
      • Krishnamurthy S.
      • Bevers T.
      • Kuerer H.
      • Yang W.T.
      Multidisciplinary considerations in the management of high-risk breast lesions.
      Figure thumbnail gr3
      Figure 3Screening mammogram detected area of architectural distortion in a 46-year-old woman. Craniocaudal (A) and mediolateral (B) mammogram of the right breast demonstrates an area of architectural distortion (arrows) in the lateral right breast with associated punctate calcifications. (C) Ultrasound of the right breast shows an irregular hypoechoic mass with posterior shadowing corresponding to the mammographic architectural distortion (arrows). (D) Sagittal 3-dimensional immediate postcontrast fat saturated magnetic resonance imaging of the right breast showing a spiculated rapidly enhancing mass (arrows). (E) Histological section (40x) shows a cellular lesion characterized mostly by cystic columnar tubules (left). The right (arrow) side of the section shows sclerotic collagenized stroma containing entrapped benign glands. (F) High magnification (100x) images showing dense collagen with entrapped benign glands consistent with radial scar.
      Radial scars do not confer increased breast cancer risk above that of PD without atypia.
      • Bunting D.M.
      • Steel J.R.
      • Holgate C.S.
      • Watkins R.M.
      Long term follow-up and risk of breast cancer after a radial scar or complex sclerosing lesion has been identified in a benign open breast biopsy.
      Presently, the recommendation is to perform open excision of lesions that are associated with atypia. Women with benign lesions that have been excised do not require additional follow-up other than routine age-appropriate breast cancer screening.
      • Bunting D.M.
      • Steel J.R.
      • Holgate C.S.
      • Watkins R.M.
      Long term follow-up and risk of breast cancer after a radial scar or complex sclerosing lesion has been identified in a benign open breast biopsy.
      • Berg J.C.
      • Visscher D.W.
      • Vierkant R.A.
      • et al.
      Breast cancer risk in women with radial scars in benign breast biopsies.

      Fibroepithelial Tumors

      Fibroadenomas

      Fibroadenomas are common tumors, usually presenting as mobile nodules in women younger than 40 years. They generally do not grow to be much larger than 2 to 3 cm in size and regress with increasing age, after menopause. Mammographically, they appear as oval masses with circumscribed margins that are equal in density with normal breast tissue. Ultrasonography shows oval circumscribed masses, homogeneous echotexture, and varying echogenicity without shadowing.
      • Harvey J.A.
      • Nicholson B.T.
      • Lorusso A.P.
      • Cohen M.A.
      • Bovbjerg V.E.
      Short-term follow-up of palpable breast lesions with benign imaging features: evaluation of 375 lesions in 320 women.
      Histologically, fibroadenomas are composed of evenly disposed compressed glands within collagenous stroma. Simple fibroadenomas are considered NP lesions and can be observed, excised, or ablated after CNB confirmation of benignancy.
      • Hartmann L.C.
      • Sellers T.A.
      • Frost M.H.
      • et al.
      Benign breast disease and the risk of breast cancer.
      The so-called complex fibroadenomas are a form of PD; they may contain sclerosing adenosis, calcifications, or papillary hyperplasia.
      • Dupont W.D.
      • Page D.L.
      Risk factors for breast cancer in women with proliferative breast disease.
      Of note, nearly any breast lesion, including carcinoma, may arise in a preexisting benign fibroadenoma. Fibroadenomas have limited recurrence potential, which is primarily observed in young women or for lesions greater than 2 cm.
      • Grady I.
      • Gorsuch H.
      • Wilburn-Bailey S.
      Long-term outcome of benign fibroadenomas treated by ultrasound-guided percutaneous excision.
      Fibroadenomas that are biopsy proven by CNB do not warrant additional evaluation; however, excision is advised for fibroadenomas diagnosed by CNB that increase beyond 2 to 3 cm in size or are symptomatic.
      • Grady I.
      • Gorsuch H.
      • Wilburn-Bailey S.
      Long-term outcome of benign fibroadenomas treated by ultrasound-guided percutaneous excision.

      Phyllodes Tumors

      Phyllodes tumors are uncommon and may present in any age group, on average a decade later than fibroadenomas, as expansile masses ranging from 1 to more than 10 cm in diameter.
      • Reinfuss M.
      • Mituś J.
      • Duda K.
      • Stelmach A.
      • Ryś J.
      • Smolak K.
      The treatment and prognosis of patients with phyllodes tumor of the breast: an analysis of 170 cases.
      • Geisler D.P.
      • Boyle M.J.
      • Malnar K.F.
      • et al.
      Phyllodes tumors of the breast: a review of 32 cases.
      Larger tumors can cause skin thinning with vascular discoloration or ulceration. Mammographically, phyllodes tumors typically present as a lobulated circumscribed mass although in borderline or malignant phyllodes tumors, the margins may be indistinct.
      • Tan H.
      • Zhang S.
      • Liu H.
      • et al.
      Imaging findings in phyllodes tumors of the breast.
      Phyllodes tumors are characterized by a prominent and hypercellular stromal compartment that is expanded out of proportion to the epithelial component of the tumor. The term phyllodes refers to the presence of prominent “intracanalicular” growth in which characteristic mushroomlike masses of stroma project into epithelial lumens. Phyllodes tumors comprise a considerable histopathological spectrum and are classified as benign, borderline, or malignant on the basis of stromal mitotic rate, cytology, and degree of stromal overgrowth. Most phyllodes tumors (90%) are benign or borderline and lack metastatic capacity.
      Benign or borderline phyllodes tumors may be difficult to distinguish from cellular variants of fibroadenoma by CNB. Accordingly, some authors have reported a marked false-negative rate for CNB in the diagnosis of benign phyllodes tumors.
      • Resetkova E.
      • Khazai L.
      • Albarracin C.T.
      • Arribas E.
      Clinical and radiologic data and core needle biopsy findings should dictate management of cellular fibroepithelial tumors of the breast.
      For these reasons, lesions suspected of being phyllodes are best classified after excision of the entire lesion.
      • Karim R.Z.
      • Gerega S.K.
      • Yang Y.H.
      • et al.
      Phyllodes tumours of the breast: a clinicopathological analysis of 65 cases from a single institution.
      • Hawkins R.E.
      • Schofield J.B.
      • Fisher C.
      • Wiltshaw E.
      • McKinna J.A.
      The clinical and histologic criteria that predict metastases from cystosarcoma phyllodes.
      Some experts recommend using indeterminant diagnostic terms such as cellular fibroepithelial lesion when dealing with this differential diagnosis on CNB.
      Surgical excisional biopsy is recommended for cellular fibroepithelial lesions, and surgical consultation is recommended for fibroadenomas greater than 3 cm in size or those that appear to be enlarging substantially. Most studies show that any stromal mitotic activity in a fibroepithelial lesion from a woman older than 30 years is suggestive of a phyllodes tumor.
      • Jacobs T.W.
      • Connolly J.L.
      • Schnitt S.J.
      Nonmalignant lesions in breast core needle biopsies: to excise or not to excise?.
      Because of the inability to clearly demarcate margins grossly, wide local excision with 1 cm margins or greater is recommended for borderline or malignant phyllodes tumors.
      • Guillot E.
      • Couturaud B.
      • Reyal F.
      • et al.
      Management of phyllodes breast tumors.

      Pseudoangiomatous Stromal Hyperplasia

      Pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia (PASH) is a relatively common NP lesion. It presents as either a palpable mass or a screening detected mass. Mammographically, PASH usually appears as a noncalcified circumscribed or partially circumscribed mass but may also present as a developing asymmetric density. Ultrasonography usually shows a well-defined hypoechoic mass or echogenic regions with linear hypoechoic structures.
      • Jones K.N.
      • Glazebrook K.N.
      • Reynolds C.
      Pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia: imaging findings with pathologic and clinical correlation.
      Histologically, PASH is composed of dense collagen in which fibroblast proliferation forms distinctive slitlike spaces resembling blood vessels in the stroma between lobular units.
      • Hoda S.A.
      • Rosen P.P.
      Observations on the pathologic diagnosis of selected unusual lesions in needle core biopsies of breast.
      Variable awareness of PASH among pathologists may result in some CNBs of this lesion receiving a nonspecific or descriptive diagnosis such as “NP fibrocystic change” or “stromal fibrosis.” Pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia does not increase breast cancer risk, and a diagnosis by CNB in the absence of any suspicious radiologic features may be managed with routine clinical and radiologic breast screening assessments.
      • Degnim A.
      • Visscher D.
      • Vierkant R.
      • et al.
      Breast cancer risk in women with pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia (PASH) (Abstract #74).
      It is a benign finding and is considered concordant for a developing asymmetric density or mass if most of the lesion is PASH rather than an incidental microscopic finding. Interval growth or any suspicious radiologic findings warrant surgical excision because of concerns related to inadequate sampling.
      • Gresik C.M.
      • Godellas C.
      • Aranha G.V.
      • Rajan P.
      • Shoup M.
      Pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia of the breast: a contemporary approach to its clinical and radiologic features and ideal management.

      Miscellaneous Lesions

      Sclerosing Adenosis

      Sclerosing adenosis (SA) is a benign proliferative lesion often seen in conjunction with columnar alteration of lobules. Histologically, it is characterized by an increase in the number of lobular acini, which are often attenuated and enriched in myoepithelial cell populations.
      • Ferrara A.
      Benign breast disease.
      On mammography, SA appears as a discrete mass or focal architectural distortion with calcifications, which thus prompts CNB. However, it should be pointed out that careful review of the imaging and histopathologic findings is required after a core biopsy showing sclerosing adenosis. Such a result should not be accepted for lesions with high suspicion of malignancy, including spiculated masses, branching or fine linear calcifications, or calcifications in a segmental or linear distribution. Recognition of associated radial sclerosing lesions may be problematic; if present, excision may be appropriate for masses or architectural distortion in association with radial sclerosing lesions. The RR of breast cancer for sclerosing adenosis is low
      • Wang J.
      • Costantino J.P.
      • Tan-Chiu E.
      • Wickerham D.L.
      • Paik S.
      • Wolmark N.
      Lower-category benign breast disease and the risk of invasive breast cancer.
      ; thus, routine breast cancer screening is recommended.

      Fat Necrosis

      Fat necrosis accounts for approximately 3% of benign breast lesions. It can result from known or unrecalled trauma but more often is seen after previous surgery and/or breast radiation therapy and after breast reconstruction.
      • Tan P.H.
      • Lai L.M.
      • Carrington E.V.
      • et al.
      Fat necrosis of the breast–a review.
      Fat necrosis may appear as lipid cysts, coarse calcifications, focal asymmetries, microcalcifications, or spiculated masses on mammographic imaging. Sonographically, its appearance varies with the viscosity of the content and the wall characteristics, ranging from a circumscribed complex cystic mass to a spiculated hypoechoic mass with posterior shadowing suggestive of malignancy.
      • Trimboli R.M.
      • Carbonaro L.A.
      • Cartia F.
      • Di Leo G.
      • Sardanelli F.
      MRI of fat necrosis of the breast: the “black hole” sign at short tau inversion recovery.
      On MRI, mature fat necrosis has signal intensity similar to that of the adjacent fat but may have a variable enhancement of the surrounding fibrous tissue that can be suggestive of malignancy. A correlation with mammographic appearance is helpful to confirm the fat density nature of the lesion. The diagnosis of fat necrosis may require CNB if the lesion appears radiographically indeterminate.
      The diagnostic accuracy for CNB is reasonable, with a false-negative rate of 1.2% to 1.5%.
      • Parker S.H.
      • Burbank F.
      • Jackman R.J.
      • et al.
      Percutaneous large-core breast biopsy: a multi-institutional study.
      Fat necrosis itself does not confer increased breast cancer risk. However, when imaging findings are suspicious and cancer cannot be excluded, surgical consultation for consideration of excision is appropriate.

      Desmoid Tumor (Mammary Fibromatosis)

      Mammary fibromatosis is a rare benign tumor characterized by an infiltrative and locally aggressive growth of fibroblastic collagen-containing cells. These lesions are characterized by a tendency to recur locally but lack metastatic potential. They may occur in the breast in the absence of an associated syndrome such as Gardner syndrome or familial adenomatosis polyposis. Mammary fibromatosis presents as a palpable mass that may be clinically suggestive of malignancy. On imaging, it appears as a suspicious solid spiculated mass. An MRI is valuable for the evaluation of tumor extent.
      • Glazebrook K.N.
      • Reynolds C.A.
      Mammary fibromatosis.
      Biopsy results have often been reported to be discordant with imaging findings, likely reflecting the difficulty in histological distinction from scarring or stromal hyperplasias in small samples.
      • Neuman H.B.
      • Brogi E.
      • Ebrahim A.
      • Brennan M.F.
      • Van Zee K.J.
      Desmoid tumors (fibromatoses) of the breast: a 25-year experience.
      Treatment is complete surgical resection with a wide margin.

      Vascular Lesions of the Breast

      Perilobular hemangiomas present as benign-appearing lobulated masses that, although not especially worrisome on imaging, may be confusing on CNB due to cellularity that can resemble well-differentiated areas within angiosarcomas.
      • Glazebrook K.N.
      • Morton M.J.
      • Reynolds C.
      Vascular tumors of the breast: mammographic, sonographic, and MRI appearances.
      Clinical and radiographic correlation in this setting is helpful because most angiosarcomas in the breast are greater than 3 cm and many involve the overlying skin. Suspicious lesions should be surgically removed for definitive pathologic evaluation.
      Atypical vascular lesions are dermal vascular proliferations that may be seen 1 to 20 years after radiation therapy for breast cancer.
      • Patton K.T.
      • Deyrup A.T.
      • Weiss S.W.
      Atypical vascular lesions after surgery and radiation of the breast: a clinicopathologic study of 32 cases analyzing histologic heterogeneity and association with angiosarcoma.
      Typically, the lesions appear as an erythematous papule that may be derived from blood or lymph vasculature and may progress to ulceration. Histologically, the lesions demonstrate proliferation of irregular vascular spaces with worrisome architectural features and low-grade nuclear atypia or increased mitotic activity. Current recommendations are for complete excision of atypical vascular lesions in radiated areas of the breast because these lesions may recur and, on rare occasion, progress to cutaneous angiosarcoma.
      • Patton K.T.
      • Deyrup A.T.
      • Weiss S.W.
      Atypical vascular lesions after surgery and radiation of the breast: a clinicopathologic study of 32 cases analyzing histologic heterogeneity and association with angiosarcoma.
      • Gengler C.
      • Coindre J.M.
      • Leroux A.
      • et al.
      Vascular proliferations of the skin after radiation therapy for breast cancer: clinicopathologic analysis of a series in favor of a benign process: a study from the French Sarcoma Group.

      Mucocele-Like Lesions

      Mucocele-like lesions (MLLs) are mucin-filled cysts with areas of stromal mucin extravasation. Approximately 25% are associated with AH. They are usually clinically occult and are identified at the time of CNB performed for indeterminate calcifications with or without a mass lesion noted on mammogram.
      • Glazebrook K.
      • Reynolds C.
      Original report. Mucocele-like tumors of the breast: mammographic and sonographic appearances.
      A recent review of 58 MLLs with or without ADH identified on CNB reported an upgrade to malignancy (usually DCIS) in 0% of the patients without AH or mass and 31% of the patients with AH and/or mass.
      • Sutton B.
      • Davion S.
      • Feldman M.
      • Siziopikou K.
      • Mendelson E.
      • Sullivan M.
      Mucocele-like lesions diagnosed on breast core biopsy: assessment of upgrade rate and need for surgical excision.
      Radiologic-pathologic concordance was strictly applied in this setting to avoid unnecessary repeat biopsy or excision. In addition, over a mean follow-up period of 43 months (range, 22-87 months), 8 patients with MLLs alone on CNB who did not go on to excision have not developed breast cancer. The review by Sutton et al
      • Sutton B.
      • Davion S.
      • Feldman M.
      • Siziopikou K.
      • Mendelson E.
      • Sullivan M.
      Mucocele-like lesions diagnosed on breast core biopsy: assessment of upgrade rate and need for surgical excision.
      suggests that MLLs without AH or mass identified on CNB may be safely followed clinically rather than excised as long as strict radiologic-pathologic concordance is observed.

      Conclusion

      The management of atypical, indeterminate, or unusual breast pathology diagnosed by CNB can be confusing. Important advances in the past decade with data provided by large and well-annotated clinical-pathological case series have improved our understanding of management, malignant potential, and associated cancer risk of AH, papilloma, CCLs, and fibroepithelial lesions. Further studies of uncommon and newly described lesions are needed to provide clearer evidence for appropriate clinical management and to better define the need for diagnostic excisional biopsy to avoid a delay in the diagnosis of malignancy or of a high-risk lesion for which risk-reducing strategies might be used.
      We emphasize that the decision to recommend excisional biopsy after CNB requires close collaboration and communication among pathologists, radiologists, and surgeons. With a multidisciplinary approach, clinical, imaging, and pathologic findings can be incorporated to provide the best possible recommendations for optimal patient care. Finally, we believe that providers in this field have an opportunity to pioneer novel quality programs that facilitate the continuous learning necessary to optimize patient care in the rapidly evolving field of breast disease. Breast centers, in particular, have the opportunity for continuous quality improvement by self-assessment and monitoring of outcomes in this area. The ongoing evaluation and the sharing of outcomes in the multidisciplinary approach are critical in the future optimization of ongoing management of patients with unusual benign and atypical lesions noted on CNB of the breast.

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