Mammary tuberculosis -- importance of recognition and differentiation from that of a breast malignancy: report of three cases and review of the literature

World J Surg Oncol. 2007 Jun 18;5:67. doi: 10.1186/1477-7819-5-67.


Background: While tuberculosis of the breast is an extremely uncommon entity seen in western populations, it accounts for up to 3% of all treatable breast lesions in developing countries.

Case presentations: We reviewed three female cases of mammary tuberculosis that were diagnosed and treated in Turkey during the same calendar year. All three patients presented with a painful breast mass. In all cases, fine needle aspiration was nondiagnostic for mammary tuberculosis. However, the diagnosis of mammary tuberculosis was confirmed by histopathologic evaluation at the time of open surgical biopsy. All three patients were treated with antituberculous therapy for six months. At the end of the treatment period, each patient appeared to be clinically and radiologically without evidence of residual disease.

Conclusion: The diagnosis of mammary tuberculosis rests on the appropriate clinical suspicion and the histopathologic findings of the breast lesion. Its recognition and differentiation from that of a breast malignancy is absolutely necessary. Antituberculous chemotherapy, initiated immediately upon diagnosis, forms the mainstay of treatment for mammary tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / pathology