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Breast papillomas in the era of percutaneous needle biopsy.

BACKGROUND: The significance of breast papillomas detected on core needle biopsy (CNB) remains unclear. While those associated with malignancy or atypia are excised, no clear solution exists for benign papillomas. We sought to determine the indication for surgical excision, incidence of malignancy, significance, and natural history.

METHODS: In this retrospective review, patients were divided into benign, atypical, or malignant cohorts based on initial results. While patients with malignant or atypical features were encouraged to undergo surgical excision, no standard recommendation was given for benign papillomas. Mammographic features, method of initial diagnosis, pathology results, and follow-up data were analyzed.

RESULTS: Between January 1994 to December 2005, 5,257 CNBs were performed at our tertiary level medical center. 206 patients were diagnosed with 215 breast papillomas. 174 (81%) papillomas were benign, 26 (12%) were associated with atypia, and 15 (7%) were associated with malignancy. Two benign papillomas (1.1%) developed into cancer over an average of 53 months. Average follow-up of those patients not undergoing excision for benign papilloma was 41 months; we had 92 patients with greater than two year follow-up and 57 patients with greater than four year follow-up. Of patients with atypia or malignancy associated with papilloma, there was a 26% and 87% associated rate of malignancy, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Benign breast papillomas diagnosed by CNB have a low risk of malignancy and do not need excision. However, they should be considered high risk lesions which require serial radiographic monitoring. Papillomas associated with atypia or malignancy should continue to be excised.

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