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Ann Surg. 1982 Mar;195(3):259-64.

Nipple discharge from the breast.


Abnormal nipple discharge is rare, constituting only 3-5% of mammary consultation. In the present paper 267 patients with primary nipple discharge operated on at Institut Gustave-Roussay (IGR) in Villejuif, France, between January 1, 1960 and December, 1974 were evaluated. In all cases, the nipple discharge was symptomatic, spontaneous, and represented the primary reason for the patient's consultation. During the same period 1,145 cases of nipple discharge were treated at IGR. Of the 1,145 cases with symptomatic nipple discharge, 267 patients (23%) required surgical intervention. Among these, fibrocystic disease and duct ectasia were the leading causes of nipple discharge occurring in 42% of surgical specimens. Twenty one per cent of the patients had carcinoma and 35% were found to have intraductal papilloma. The overall incidence of malignancy, however, was 4.8% among the 1,145 women with nipple discharge. On the average, patients with nipple discharge due to malignancy were ten years older than those with benign lesions (Table 2). Approximately 25% of patients with malignant discharge and 5% with benign discharge have associated tumor. Over 60% of the patients with both discharge and a mass had malignancy.

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