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J Radiol. 2006 Nov;87(11 Pt 1):1671-7.

[Diagnosis of flat epithelial atypia (FEA) after stereotactic vacuum-assisted biopsy (VAB) of the breast: What is the best management: systematic surgery for all or follow-up?].

[Article in French]

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Service de Radiologie, Centre René Gauducheaux, 44100 Nantes.



FEA lesions group two histological types: columnar cell hyperplasia with atypia (CCHA) and columnar cell change with atypia (CCA). The increasing use of VAB has resulted in increased detection of isolated FEA lesions. The aim of this study was to define the best management possible for these patients: which cases may not need excision?


From our database of 780 VABs carried out from 2000 to 2004, 59 patients with FEA were diagnosed. Cases in which no surgery was performed or all features were not available were excluded, thus excluding 19 cases. Forty patients with FEA were included. We reviewed clinical and mammographic characteristics, histological biopsy, and the corresponding surgically excised tissue features.


VAB yielded 25 cases of CCHA and 15 cases of CCA. Surgery revealed seven ductal carcinoma cases (four invasive, three in situ); nine benign lesions, and 24 with atypia (19 FEA and six atypical ductal hyperplasia). We found two features related to the risk of cancer: the presence and the size of hyperplasia. All carcinomas were found within the CCHA lesions. No cancer was yielded when size was less than 10 mm within CCA lesions and lesions that were totally removed.


We recommend surgical excision when CCHA greater than 10 mm is found on the VAB or it is incompletely removed. CCA lesions or CCHA less than 10 mm or totally removed may obviate systematic surgery.

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