The use of ductal lavage as a screening tool in women at high risk for developing breast carcinoma

Am J Surg. 2007 Oct;194(4):463-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2007.06.020.


Background: The purpose of the study was to determine if ductal lavage could predict the occurrence of breast cancer as well as further stratify patients at high-risk for developing breast cancer.

Methods: Ductal lavage was performed in 116 high-risk patients (Gail Risk score > or = 1.7%, previous breast cancer, strong family history, previous suspicious biopsy specimen). If atypia or papillary cells were identified, a standard protocol of evaluation was initiated.

Results: Two hundred twenty-three lavages were performed on 116 patients. Twenty-seven lavages in 25 patients yielded atypical or papillary-like cells. The 15 patients who underwent further evaluation for atypia had no evidence of cancerous or precancerous lesions. All patients were followed-up: 2 developed breast cancer, both of whom had had normal previous lavage. No patient with abnormal lavage developed cancer during follow-up.

Conclusions: We find ductal lavage to be of limited value in the screening of high-risk patients and have removed it from our treatment algorithm.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Therapeutic Irrigation