Tubular carcinoma of the breast: Sensitivity of diagnostic techniques and correlation with histopathology

Julie S. Mitnick, Rosamond Gianutsos, Abraham H. Pollack, Marcy Susman, Barbara L. Baskin, William D. Ko, Peter I. Pressman, Helen D. Feiner, Daniel F. Roses

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. Our objective was to assess our experience in diagnosing pure tubular carcinoma of the breast and to correlate the radiologic and histopathologic features. MATERIALS AND METHODS. A retrospective review of 932 consecutive cases of proven breast cancer diagnosed between 1990 and 1997 revealed 78 cases (8.4%) of tubular carcinoma in 69 patients. Clinical, imaging, cytologic, and histologic findings were analyzed. RESULTS. Mammography revealed tubular carcinoma in 68 (87%) of the 78 cases. Sonography showed tubular carcinoma in all 38 cases in which it was used; nine of these lesions were mammographically occult. These nine lesions were slightly, but not significantly (p < .05), smaller than the 29 lesions that had also been detected on mammography. Large core needle biopsy was performed in 22 patients (sensitivity, 91%). At biopsy, diagnoses were malignant (n = 16 [73%]), suspicious (n = 4 [18%]), atypia (n = 1 [4.5%]), and benign (n = 1 [4.5%]). Fine-needle aspiration biopsy was used to evaluate 36 cases of tubular carcinoma (sensitivity, 50%); cytologic diagnoses were malignant (n = 15 [42%]), suspicious (n = 3 [8%]), atypia (n = 10 [28%]), and benign (n = 8 [22%]). Only 15 (19%) of the 78 tubular carcinomas were palpable. Other tumors were detected within the excised tissue in 47 of the patients (68%); of these other types of lesions, ductal carcinoma in situ was found most often. CONCLUSION. Most cases of tubular carcinoma can be revealed by mammography; for mammographically occult tubular carcinoma, sonography can be performed. The rate of accuracy for determining the presence of tubular carcinoma is higher with large core needle biopsy than with fine-needle aspiration biopsy. Finally, when tubular carcinoma is diagnosed, other histologic types of carcinoma often occur in the same breast.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-323
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes


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