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Int J Surg Oncol. 2012;2012:979521. doi: 10.1155/2012/979521. Epub 2012 Feb 29.

Mammary ductal carcinoma in situ: a fresh look at architectural patterns.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Royal Darwin Hospital, Tiwi, NT 2011, Australia.


Mammary ductal carcinoma in-situ (DCIS), a malignant appearing lesion on cytological and histological grounds, is in fact a non-obligate precancer. DCIS is difficult to manage and is sometimes treated more aggressively than invasive carcinoma. Although most DCIS classifications take into account the architectural growth pattern, when it comes to architecture, the literature is full of contradictory information. We examined 289 breast cancers and found DCIS in 265 of the cases. The majority of the DCIS cases were seen in the setting of invasive cancer and only 9% of the cases represented pure DCIS with no invasive cancer. The DCIS commonly displayed a mixed pattern with micropapillary, cribriform and solid components with the micropapillary type being the rarest, occurring seldom on its own. A continuum of growth with a micropapillary pattern evolving into a cribriform type could be seen in some of the cases. This may explain some of the conflicting information, in the literature, regarding the different architectural types of DCIS. The comedo-pattern of necrosis could be seen in all types of DCIS. We therefore conclude that the study of the determinants of growth pattern in DCIS would be the key to unravelling the diverse, often non-concordant evidence one encounters in the literature.

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