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Radiology. 2004 Dec;233(3):850-6. Epub 2004 Oct 14.

Follow-up of palpable circumscribed noncalcified solid breast masses at mammography and US: can biopsy be averted?

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  • 1Institute of Radiology, Ambulatory Care Center Steyr, Stadtplatz 30, A-4400 Steyr, Austria.



To determine whether palpable noncalcified solid breast masses with benign morphology at mammography and ultrasonography (US) can be managed similarly to nonpalpable probably benign lesions (Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System [BI-RADS] category 3)-that is, with periodic imaging surveillance-and to determine whether biopsy can be averted in these lesions.


No institutional review board approval or patient consent was required. This retrospective analysis, based on final imaging reports, included 152 patients (age range, 28-77 years; mean age, 48.3 years) with 157 palpable noncalcified solid masses that were classified as probably benign at initial mammography and US. Of 152 patients, 108 underwent follow-up with mammography and US (6-month intervals for 2 years, then 12-month intervals). The remaining 44 patients underwent surgical or needle biopsy after initial imaging. Lesions were analyzed at initial and follow-up examinations. Statistical analysis included Student t test and corresponding exact 95% confidence intervals.


In 108 patients who underwent follow-up only, 112 lesions were palpable. In 102 (94.4%) of 108 patients, masses remained stable during follow-up. Lesions were followed for at least 2 years (mean, 4.1 years; range, 2-7 years). In six (5.6%) patients, palpable lesions increased in size during follow-up; these lesions were benign at subsequent open biopsy. No breast carcinoma was diagnosed in the 44 patients with 45 palpable lesions who underwent biopsy after initial imaging. Of 157 lesions, no malignant tumors were observed (exact one-sided 95% confidence interval: 0%, 1.95%).


The data strongly suggest that palpable noncalcified solid breast masses with benign morphology at mammography and US can be managed similarly to nonpalpable BI-RADS category 3 lesions, with short-term follow-up (6-month intervals for 2 years). More data, based on a larger series, are required to determine whether this conclusion is correct.

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