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Hum Pathol. 1985 Aug;16(8):796-807.

The prevalence of carcinoma in situ in normal and cancer-associated breasts.


Two hundred ninety-two human breasts were examined in toto by a subgross sampling technique with histologic confirmation. The samples consisted of 185 breasts from random autopsies, 63 cancer-containing breasts, and 44 breasts contralateral to cancer-containing breasts. The method permits the identification and enumeration of essentially all of the dysplastic, hyperplastic, and neoplastic lesions present in each breast. Emphasis was on the prevalence within each sample category of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), and epithelial proliferative lesions with severe atypia, previously termed ALA 4 and ALB 4, which correspond to the clinicopathologic entities atypical ductal hyperplasia and atypical lobular hyperplasia, respectively. Additional primary foci of DCIS (unrelated to invasive breast carcinoma, if present) were found in 52.5 per cent of cancer-containing breasts, and were seen in 47.7 per cent of contralateral and 5.9 per cent of the breasts from random autopsies. Lobular carcinoma in situ was generally seen only in association with infiltrating carcinoma, usually of the ductal type. No LCIS was seen in the breasts from random autopsies. These trends are the same if the proliferative lesions with severe atypia are included with carcinoma in situ. The numbers of lesions were also markedly greater in affected cancer-associated breasts than in affected breasts obtained from autopsies. These findings suggest that LCIS, although a rare lesion in the general population, may be a significant marker for clinical carcinoma. They support previous studies showing a small percentage of women with undetected DCIS of uncertain clinical and biological potential. The multicentric nature of preinvasive breast carcinoma is further substantiated. Finally, when the prevalence and number of lesions are considered in association with the ages of the patients, the lower prevalence of such lesions in the older patients in each sample suggests that at least some DCIS and LCIS may be dependent on a premenopausal hormonal milieu for their continuing existence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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