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World J Surg Oncol. 2010 Sep 8;8:78. doi: 10.1186/1477-7819-8-78.

Surgical outcomes of borderline breast lesions detected by needle biopsy in a breast screening program.

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  • 1Australian National University, Medical School, The Canberra Hospital, Woden, ACT, Australia.



The Australian Capital Territory and South East New South Wales branch of BreastScreen Australia (BreastScreen ACT&SENSW) performs over 20,000 screening mammograms annually. This study describes the outcome of surgical biopsies of the breast performed as a result of a borderline lesion being identified after screening mammography and subsequent workup.A secondary aim was to identify any parameters, such as a family history of breast cancer, or radiological findings that may indicate which borderline lesions are likely to be upgraded to malignancy after surgery.


From a period of just over eight years, all patients of BreastScreen ACT&SENSW who were diagnosed with a borderline breast lesion were identified. These women had undergone needle biopsy in Breastscreen ACT&SENSW and either atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), flat epithelial atypia (FEA), atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH), radial scar/complex sclerosing lesion, papillary lesion, mucocoele-like lesion (MLL) or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) was found. Final outcomes for each type of borderline lesion after referral for surgical biopsy were recorded and analysed. Results of the surgical biopsy were compared to the type of needle biopsy and its result, radiological findings and family history status.


Of the 94 surgical biopsies performed due to the presence of a borderline breast lesion, 20% showed benign pathology, 55% remained as borderline lesions, 17% showed non-invasive malignancy and 7% showed invasive malignancy. VALCS biopsy was the most common needle biopsy method used to identify the lesions in this study (76%). Malignant outcomes resulted from 24% of the surgical biopsies, with the most common malignant lesion being non-comedo ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). The most common borderline lesion for which women underwent surgical biopsy was ADH (38%). Of these women, 22% were confirmed as ADH on surgical biopsy and 47% with a malignancy.


Further research is required to determine whether characteristics of the mammographic lesion (particularly calcification patterns), the area targeted for biopsy and number of core samples retrieved, can indicate a closer correlation with eventual pathology. This study identified no findings in the diagnostic assessment that could exclude women with borderline lesions from surgical biopsy.

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