Objective: To determine whether cells from histologically normal appearing epithelium of the lactiferous duct from women with a remote ductal lesion in the breast provide any clues indicating the existence of such a lesion.
Study design: Tissue sections cut to 4 microns and stained with hematoxylin and eosin were prepared from duct tissue of 20 women with breast lesions and of 20 women free of any such lesion who had undergone mammoplastic procedures or resection for benign reasons. One hundred nuclei were measured from each case. Measures of nuclear deviation from normal were computed, discriminant functions were derived, and multivariate significance tests were conducted.
Results: Nuclei from histologically normal appearing regions of lactiferous duct epithelium from women harboring distant lesions exhibited changes in the distribution pattern of their nuclear chromatin, indicating the presence of these lesions. The statistical significance of these changes was documented. The changes were clearly evident in all 20 subjects with lesions and were not observed in 19 of the 20 subjects without lesions.
Conclusion: The results suggest that studies aimed at detecting malignancy-associated changes in cells collected by ductal lavage might lead to a minimally invasive screening procedure for breast lesions.