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Radiographics. 2011 Jul-Aug;31(4):1085-100. doi: 10.1148/rg.314105205.

Mammographic signs of systemic disease.

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Department of Radiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Although mammography is primarily used for the detection of breast cancer, it can occasionally reveal breast abnormalities related to extramammary disease. Cardiovascular diseases such as congestive heart failure and central venous obstruction may manifest as venous engorgement and breast edema at mammography. Pathologic arterial calcifications seen at mammography can indicate an underlying risk factor for accelerated atherosclerosis such as chronic renal failure. Connective tissue diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis-polymyositis, and systemic scleroderma typically manifest with bilateral axillary lymphadenopathy, and stromal calcifications are also seen in the latter three disease processes. Some diseases such as neurofibromatosis type 1 and filariasis may manifest with pathognomonic findings at mammography, whereas other systemic diseases such as Wegener granulomatosis, sarcoidosis, and amyloidosis can manifest as nonspecific breast masses that are indistinguishable from breast cancer and usually require tissue biopsy for confirmation. Knowledge of the imaging characteristics of various systemic diseases affecting the breast will aid the radiologist in differentiating systemic disease from suspect breast lesions, thereby helping ensure appropriate follow-up. Furthermore, recognition of systemic diseases such as Cowden syndrome that are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer will allow the radiologist to recommend appropriate surveillance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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