Are microinvasion and micrometastasis in breast cancer mountains or molehills?

Am J Surg. 2000 Oct;180(4):305-8. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9610(00)00464-5.


Background: The increased rate of early detection of breast cancer due to widespread mammographic screening has led to an increased incidence of in situ as well as microinvasive carcinoma. The enhanced pathological examination to which sentinel lymph nodes are subjected has led to an increased rate of detection of micrometastatic carcinoma. Despite the augmented rate of diagnoses of both diseases, the pathological diagnoses as well as clinical management of these entities continue to be controversial.

Data sources: A computerized literature search was performed on the Medline and PubMed database from 1990 to date. Relevant earlier publications were also perused. The database of the Department of Pathology at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Well Medical College of Cornell University were also accessed.

Conclusions: Based on cumulative data, patients diagnosed with either microinvasive or micrometastatic carcinoma of breast have a relatively favorable, albeit guarded, prognosis. Treatment recommendations for both of these disease entities continue to be controversial, and may remain so until additional refined clinicopathological data becomes available.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Axilla
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness