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Cancer. 2000 Oct 1;89(7):1512-9.

Fiberoptic ductoscopy for patients with nipple discharge.

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Department of Surgery, Cancer Hospital/Cancer Institute, Shanghai Medical University, Shanghai, Peoples Republic of China.



Breast carcinoma and precancer are thought to start in the lining of the milk duct or lobule, yet until recently, we have not had direct access to this area other than by blindly removing tissue by core biopsy or fine-needle aspiration. Fiberoptic ductoscopy (FDS) is an emerging technique allowing direct visual access to the ductal system of the breast through nipple orifice exploration.


We applied ductoscopy to 259 women who had nipple discharge, and we analyzed the visual findings, the cytological washings, and the subsequent histopathology.


In 92 (36%) of these women, fiberoptic ductoscopy was successful in detecting an intraductal papillary lesion. Of these observed lesions, 68 (74%) were single papilloma, 21 (23%) were multiple discrete papillomas, and 3 (3%) were diffuse intraductal thickening which corresponded to diffuse papillomatosis on histopathological analysis. The overall positive predictive value of FDS screening was 83%. Of the lesions observed, 29.8% were located in the main (segmental) duct, 43.9% lesions in the first branch, 17.5% lesions in the second branch, 7.9% in the third branch, and 0.9% in the fourth branch. These lesions had an overall average distance of 2.7 cm from the nipple orifice. Ductal washings performed at the time of ductoscopy were effective at obtaining representative exfoliated ductal cells which could be evaluated for the presence of clumps (> 50 cells), clumps with atypia or single ductal cells. The presence of clumps with positive FDS increased the positive predictive value to 86%.


Fiberoptic ductoscopy currently offers a safe alternative to ductography in guiding subsequent breast surgery in the treatment of nipple discharge.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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