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Aspiration Biopsy of Mammary Lesions With Abundant Extracellular Mucinous Material
Review of 43 Cases With Surgical Follow-up

Karyna Ventura MD, Joan Cangiarella MD, Irene Lee, Andre Moreira MD, PhD, Jerry Waisman MD, Aylin Simsir MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/2MKQRJ3DLPMT4LJA 194-202 First published online: 1 August 2003


We reviewed 43 fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) smears with abundant extracellular mucinous material to determine whether accurate classification of mucinous lesions is achievable on FNAB: 26 had carcinoma (pure colloid carcinoma [CCA], 23; mixed CCA/invasive ductal carcinoma [IDC], 3); 17 had benign lesions on follow-up (benign MLL, 6; fibrocystic change [FCC], 6; myxoid fibroadenoma [MFA], 5). All carcinomas were identified correctly as malignant on FNAB. The initial cytologic diagnoses in benign cases were benign in 8, atypical in 8, and “suspicious” for carcinoma in 1. CCAs were moderate to markedly cellular with mild to moderate atypia and lacked oval bare nuclei. Marked nuclear atypia was confined predominantly to cases with mixed CCA/IDC. A distinct feature of CCA was thin-walled capillaries. FCCs and benign MLLs had overlapping cytologic features and showed variable cellularity and no or mild atypia. MFAs were markedly cellular with dyscohesion and variable atypia; stromal fragments and oval bare nuclei were present in every case. Mucinous lesions can be divided into 2 categories by FNAB: those that are adenocarcinomas and those that are not. CCAs have distinctive features that allow a definitive diagnosis on FNAB. Unnecessary surgery can be avoided in MFA by careful evaluation of smear characteristics. Cytologic features of FCC and MLL overlap. Owing to the documented association of MLL with carcinoma, we recommend that lesions that cannot be classified definitively as adenocarcinoma or MFA be considered for conservative excision, even in the absence of atypia.

Key Words:
  • Aspiration biopsy
  • Breast
  • Mucin
  • Colloid adenocarcinoma
  • Mucocele-like lesion
  • Myxoid fibroadenoma