Comparative cytology of mucocelelike lesion and mucinous carcinoma of the breast in fine needle aspiration

Acta Cytol. 2000 Sep-Oct;44(5):765-70. doi: 10.1159/000328559.


Objective: To study the fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) features of mucocelelike lesion (MLL) of the breast and to compare them to those of mucinous carcinoma.

Study design: The fine needle aspiration (FNA) smears of 7 cases of histologically proven MLL (2 malignant and 5 benign, including 4 associated with atypical ductal hyperplasia) were reviewed and compared to those of 14 mucinous carcinoma cases.

Results: In all cases, grossly visible thick, mucoid material was obtained from FNA. The most important features for distinguishing benign MLL from mucinous carcinoma were: (1) scant cellularity; (2) no or rare single, intact tumor cells; (3) tumor cells arranged in cohesive monolayers; and (4) absence of significant nuclear atypia. In contrast, mucinous carcinoma in general showed higher cellularity; abundant single, intact cells; three-dimensional cellular clusters in most cases; and nuclear atypia ranging from mild to severe.

Conclusion: Mucinous lesions of the breast should be divided into MLL and frank mucinous carcinoma based on FNAC. However, FNAC diagnosis of malignant MLL has yet to be defined. Excisional biopsy is advised for all hypocellular cases for further separation into benign and malignant MLL and to rule out the possibility of hypocellular mucinous carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / diagnosis
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Biopsy, Needle*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucocele / diagnosis
  • Mucocele / pathology*