Breast Cytology

  • Kristin C. Jensen
  • Christina S. Kong


The cytologic evaluation of physical findings can provide critical early, and sometimes definitive, insight into the etiology of a clinical breast or axillary lesion. The most common samples submitted for cytologic examination include nipple discharge samples, breast cyst fluid, and fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies of solid masses. Ductal lavage sampling is a screening technique that is primarily used in the research setting. Understanding the breadth, depth, and limitations of breast cytology is a necessary skill in managing patients with benign and malignant breast findings.


Fine Needle Aspiration Needle Core Biopsy Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy Atypical Duct Hyperplasia Nipple Discharge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Anet James for her expert assistance with the images and figures.


  1. 1.
    Abati A, Simsir A. Breast fine needle aspiration biopsy: prevailing recommendations and contemporary practices. Clin Lab Med. 2005;25(4):631–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ljung BM et al. Diagnostic accuracy of fine-needle aspiration biopsy is determined by ­physician training in sampling technique. Cancer. 2001;93(4):263–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nasuti JF, Gupta PK, Baloch ZW. Diagnostic value and cost-effectiveness of on-site ­evaluation of fine-needle aspiration specimens: review of 5,688 cases. Diagn Cytopathol. 2002; 27(1):1–4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gordon PB. Image-directed fine needle aspiration biopsy in nonpalpable breast lesions. Clin Lab Med. 2005;25(4):655–78.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fabian CJ et al. Short-term breast cancer prediction by random periareolar fine-needle aspiration cytology and the Gail risk model. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000;92(15):1217–27.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    O’Shaughnessy JA et al. Ductal lavage and the clinical management of women at high risk for breast carcinoma: a commentary. Cancer. 2002;94(2):292–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    The uniform approach to breast fine-needle aspiration biopsy. NIH Consensus Development Conference. Am J Surg. 1997;174(4): 371–85.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gornstein B et al. Interobserver agreement of a probabilistic approach to reporting breast fine-needle aspirations on ThinPrep. Diagn Cytopathol. 2004;30(6):389–95.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Sidawy MK et al. Interobserver variability in the classification of proliferative breast lesions by fine-needle aspiration: results of the Papanicolaou Society of Cytopathology Study. Diagn Cytopathol. 1998;18(2):150–65.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Masood S. Core needle biopsy versus fine needle aspiration biopsy: are there similar sampling and diagnostic issues? Clin Lab Med. 2005;25(4):679–88.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer New York 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PathologyStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations