Idiopathic granulomatous mastitis: time to avoid unnecessary mastectomies

Breast J. 2004 Jul-Aug;10(4):318-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1075-122X.2004.21336.x.


Idiopathic granulomatous mastitis is a rare disease of the breast. Clinically and radiologically it may mimic breast carcinoma. Awareness of surgeons, pathologists, and radiologists is essential to avoid unnecessary mastectomies. Data regarding 24 patients with histologically confirmed idiopathic granulomatous mastitis treated at our center over 8 years were analyzed. The mean age of patients was 34.3 years. Breast lump was the most common presentation. The right breast was affected in 16 cases. Four patients were pregnant at the time of presentation. Lactation within 6 months of presentation was documented in four patients. Two patients used contraceptives pills. A clinical suspicion of malignancy was present in 17 cases. Mammography was performed in 16 patients and showed focal asymmetrical dense lesions in 9, well-circumscribed opacity in 4, spiculated lesion in 1, and was normal in 2. Fine-needle aspiration was performed in 17 patients, of which 2 were reported as malignant. Wide local excision was the mainstay of treatment. One patient underwent mastectomy upon clinical, mammographic, and repeated cytologic findings consistent with malignancy, and the final histology confirmed idiopathic granulomatous mastitis with no evidence of malignancy. Four patients developed recurrence after a mean follow-up of 31.2 months. A greater awareness of the rare entity of idiopathic granulomatous mastitis is mandatory to avoid unnecessary mastectomies. Clinical, radiologic, and even cytologic findings are sometimes confused with malignancy. To the best of our knowledge, our patient who developed the disease at the age of 11 years is the youngest reported case.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Granuloma / diagnosis*
  • Granuloma / pathology
  • Granuloma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mastitis / diagnosis*
  • Mastitis / pathology
  • Mastitis / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications / pathology
  • Recurrence