Tuberculosis of the breast: 10 years' experience in one institution

Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2010 Jun;14(6):758-63.


Setting: Breast tuberculosis (TB) is rare even in endemic areas. Its presentation is variable and non-specific, and its diagnosis is therefore usually delayed.

Design: We recruited breast TB cases between 1998 and June 2009 at Kaohsiung Medical Center in southern Taiwan. We retrospectively reviewed the clinical features, diagnosis and management of breast TB.

Results: A total of 26 patients with breast TB (25 females) were included in this study. The most common presentation was breast tumour, followed by breast abscess and painful sensation. Patients received partial mastectomy or incision and drainage. The pathological examination revealed granulomatous inflammation, acute and chronic inflammation or both. Polymerase chain reaction has very low sensitivity in diagnosing breast TB. The interval between initial presentation and definite treatment was an average of 54.5 days. All patients received anti-tuberculosis chemotherapy, with excellent response.

Conclusion: The presentation of breast TB is variable and diagnosis is usually delayed. The disease can be diagnosed through pathological tests and a high suspicion by experienced physicians. The definite treatment is adequate anti-tuberculosis chemotherapy after surgical excision or drainage.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Breast / microbiology*
  • Breast Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Breast Diseases / drug therapy
  • Breast Diseases / epidemiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals, Community*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • DNA, Bacterial