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Acta Cytol. 1999 May-Jun;43(3):339-43.

Triple test approach to inadequate fine needle aspiration biopsies of palpable breast lesions.

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Department of Pathology, University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, School of Medicine, USA.



To perform a retrospective study evaluating the triple test for inadequate fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies of palpable breast lesions with a two-year clinical follow-up.


All aspirates were reviewed and assessed for cellular adequacy in a one-year period. Specimen adequacy was based on the most stringent criteria, the presence of six or more epithelial cell clusters composed of at least six cells each. In all cases, clinical and radiologic results were reviewed and compared with the histologic outcome.


Aspirates from 61 of 263 (23%) patients with palpable breast lesions that yielded nondiagnostic results were examined. The study showed a misdirected FNA rate of 21% and a misinterpreted rate of 1.6%. The other 77% of cases had benign surgical biopsies and/or clinical follow-up. Three of 61 (4.9%) cases with nondiagnostic smears were found to have cancer; two were inadequate due to misdirected aspirates, and one was misinterpreted microscopically. All cancer cases underwent surgical removal of the mass as a result of clinical or radiologic suspicion.


We recommend utilizing the three diagnostic parameters of cytology, clinical findings and radiology, the "triple test," to achieve the best diagnostic accuracy in breast FNAs and to enhance patient management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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