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Clin Cancer Res. 2003 Apr;9(4):1509-16.

Detection of chromosomal instability in paired breast surgery and ductal lavage specimens by interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization.

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Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.



Ductal lavage is a new modality for collecting exfoliated breast cells with the goal of detecting early neoplasia. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the correlation between cancer-associated abnormalities in breast lesions and exfoliated breast cells collected by ductal lavage.


We performed histopathologic, cytologic, and molecular cytogenetic analyses on 39 paired cases of surgically excised breast lesions and ductal lavage specimens collected immediately before surgery.


Abnormal cytology was detected in 7 of 15 (47%) of the evaluable lavages collected from malignant cases, versus 4 of 19 (21%) of the evaluable lavages harvested from benign cases for a sensitivity and specificity of 47 and 79%, respectively. Interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis of all evaluable lavages revealed numeric changes on chromosomes 1, 8, 11, and/or 17 in 10 of 14 (71%) specimens from malignant cases versus 2 of 18 (11%) from benign cases for a sensitivity and specificity of 71 and 89%, respectively.


Our study demonstrates that cytologic and genetic abnormalities associated with breast cancer progression can be detected in ductal lavage cells collected from women with in situ and invasive breast cancer and suggests that fluorescence in situ hybridization may have superior sensitivity and specificity compared with conventional cytology.

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