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Eur J Radiol. 2015 Jul;84(7):1350-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2015.04.011. Epub 2015 Apr 27.

How to approach breast lesions in children and adolescents.

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New York University Langone Medical Center, 221 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10016, USA; Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA. Electronic address:
Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Assessment of a pediatric breast lesion always starts with clinical evaluation. When imaging of a pediatric breast is indicated, ultrasound is the mainstay. The vast majority of pediatric breast complaints are of benign etiology, therefore the diagnostic/management approach emphasizes "first do no harm". Correlation with age and clinical history helps to direct diagnosis. It is essential to be familiar with the imaging appearance of the normal developing breast at various Tanner stages, in order to diagnose physiologic breast findings and to minimize unnecessary biopsies in young breasts vulnerable to injury. Normal anatomic structures, developmental conditions, benign neoplastic and non-neoplastic lesions are common causes of breast complaints in children. Uncommon benign masses and rarely, secondary more than primary malignancies may present in a pediatric breast. Chest wall masses such as Ewing's sarcoma or rhabdomyosarcoma occur in children and may involve the breast via contiguous growth or locoregional metastasis. In addition, special attention should be given to any breast lesion in a child with risk factors predisposing to breast cancer, such as known extramammary malignancy, genetic mutations, prior mantle irradiation, or strong family history of breast cancer, which usually requires biopsy to exclude the possibility of malignancy.


The developing breast is vulnerable to injury, and because breast malignancy is uncommon in children, diagnostic and management approach emphasizes "first do no harm". Understanding normal breast development and the spectrum of common and uncommon pediatric breast lesions are key to the correct diagnosis.


Breast cancer in children; Breast evaluation in children and adolescents; Breast ultrasound; Developing breast; Pediatric breast lesions

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