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Am J Surg. 2008 Mar;195(3):391-4; discussion 394-5. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2007.12.020.

Mammographic distance as a predictor of nipple-areola complex involvement in breast cancer.

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Department of Surgery, GRMERC/MSU, Grand Rapids, MI, USA.



Although involvement of the nipple-areola complex (NAC) occurs in a minority of patients with breast cancer, standard skin-sparing mastectomy requires its removal. To assist in patient selection for NAC preservation we evaluated NAC involvement and correlated this with preoperatively available clinical data.


Patients with invasive breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ undergoing mastectomy from 1998 to 2005 were reviewed retrospectively. The NAC had been evaluated with multiple thin sections. Pathologic data including NAC involvement were analyzed. The mammographic tumor distance from the nipple was measured in 2 standard views.


There were 302 patients enrolled, of which 10% were noted to have NAC involvement. This correlated negatively with tumor distance from the nipple (P < .05). A logistic regression equation was derived from the data, with NAC involvement as the dependent variable and distance from the nipple as the independent variable. The equation predicted involvement of the NAC when the distance was less than 4.96 cm with a sensitivity of 82% and a negative predictive value of 97%.


A majority of patients are candidates for NAC preservation. The mammographic distance between the tumor and the nipple is independently predictive of NAC involvement and is useful as an equation variable.

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