Preclinical Study

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 107, Issue 3, pp 371-377

First online:

Risk of neoplastic transformation in asymptomatic radial scar. Analysis of 117 cases

  • Erminia ManfrinAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, University of Verona Email author 
  • , Andrea RemoAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, University of Verona
  • , Francesca FalsirolloAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, University of Verona
  • , Daniela ReghellinAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, University of Verona
  • , Franco BonettiAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, University of Verona

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Radial scar (RS) is a benign breast lesion but a variable percentage of cases are associated with atypical epithelial proliferations and cancer. Previous studies have shown that patient age and the size of RS are correlated to a potential neoplastic transformation.


We collected 117 asymptomatic patients with suspected RS following a mammogram, histologically confirmed. The clinical, pathological and immunophenotypical analysis is reported. The cases are subdivided into three different groups: (1) RS “Pure”, without epithelial atypia; (2) RS associated with epithelial atypical hyperplasia; (3) RS with cancer.


“Pure” RS was detected in 55 patients (47%); the mean age was 48.1 years and the mean size 0.94 cm. RS associated with atypical epithelial hyperplasia was identified in 25 cases (21%) with a mean age of 53.1 years and a mean size of 0.98 cm. Carcinoma in RS was observed in 37 cases (32%); the mean age was 55.5 years and the mean size was 1.16 cm. The mean age was statistically significant (P = 0.004) in separating RS with cancer from the two other RS groups. The size of RS was not sufficiently statistically significant (P = 0.2) to differentiate the risk. Atypical lesions and cancers showed a morphology and marker of low-grade aggressiveness.


RS seems to represent a natural model of carcinogenesis starting from a proliferative lesion in patients of less than 50 years of age and developing into an atypical and later into a carcinomatous lesion. The fact that most carcinomas arising in RS are low grade also favors this hypothesis. All RS should be excised.


Radial scar Complex sclerosing lesion Breast carcinoma Benign lesion