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J Cytol. 2011 Oct;28(4):196-9. doi: 10.4103/0970-9371.86347.

A cytomorphological study of secretions in breast cancer.

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Department of Pathology, University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital, Delhi, India.



Secretions are seen in a range of breast cancer that includes invasive ductal carcinoma, mucinous carcinoma and secretory carcinoma. Evaluation of the quantity and location of secretions and the contours of the cell clusters complement cell morphology could improve diagnostic cytopathological criteria.


To identify the range of breast carcinomas with secretions on fine-needle aspiration.


A retrospective study of 160 patients with breast carcinoma was carried out. The tumors were typed by evaluating the quantity and location of secretions, cellularity and nuclear grade.


Secretions were seen in 16 of 160 breast carcinomas. Eleven were invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), three were mucinous and two were secretory carcinomas. In IDC, minimal intracytoplasmic secretions were seen in 10, nuclear grades of 2 and 3 in 9, cell clusters with irregular margins in 6, and necrosis in 4. All mucinous and secretory carcinomas were nuclear grade 1. Extensive extracellular secretions and cell clusters with rounded contours were seen in mucinous carcinomas. In secretory carcinomas, the secretions were predominantly intracellular; stringy vasculature was a unique feature.


Secretions in breast cancer are seen in a range of lesions that include IDC, mucinous, and secretory carcinomas. The quantity and location of secretions in breast cancer offer clues to differentiating these.


Breast cancer; fine needle aspiration; secretion

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