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The Role of Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology in Triple Assessment of Patients with Malignant Breast Lumps.

Background: Breast cancer is the leading female malignancy in the world and now the most common cancer in Nigeria. The evaluation of patients with breast cancer requires stepwise diagnostic approach to achieve a combined diagnostic information required to make an enhanced decision on how best to approach management. The aim of this study is to evaluate the role of fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) in the triple assessment of patients with malignant breast lumps in our center.

Patients and Methods: This is a descriptive prospective study of patients with palpable breast lumps over an eighteen-month period. The patients were sequentially subjected to FNAC and open biopsy. Those whose lumps were malignant were further evaluated.

Results: There were 88 (44.9%) and 108 (55.1%) biopsy confirmed breast cancers and benign lumps, respectively. From cytology reports, there were 12 (6.1%) unsatisfactory (C1), 96 (49%) benign (C2), 8 (4.1%) atypical (C3), 10 (5.1%) suspicious of malignancy and 70 (35.7%) unequivocally malignant (C5) smears. FNAC performed better than clinical examination in the validity tests for breast malignancy. The diagnostic results for breast malignancies were 97.2% (sensitivity), 98.9% (specificity), 1.4% (false positive rate []), 2.1% (false negative rate), 98.6% (positive predictive value), 97.9% (negative predictive value), and overall diagnostic accuracy of 98.2%.

Conclusion: Considering the high performance of diagnostic cytology noted above, FNAC has proved itself to be useful and significantly accurate in making diagnosis of breast cancers in our center.

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