Asymptomatic Complicated Cysts in Postmenopausal Women: Is Tissue Sampling Unnecessarily High?

Acad Radiol. 2019 Jul;26(7):900-906. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2018.08.022. Epub 2018 Sep 27.


Rationale and objectives: To determine the malignancy rate of complicated cysts in postmenopausal women and to discuss appropriate (Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System assessment and recommendation.

Materials and methods: This study was approved by our institutional review board and informed consent was waived. One hundred fourteen postmenopausal patients with 183 complicated cysts as defined by the newest Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System edition were identified retrospectively between January 2013 and December 2015 (to allow for 2 years follow-up period). One hundred eight complicated cysts were assessed as probably benign and 75 as suspicious. Prospective review of all images and pathology was performed and patient's age, breast density, risk factors, use of hormone replacement therapy, and family history of breast cancer were recorded. A total of 30 symptomatic patients and lesions not meeting criteria for complicated cysts were excluded from our cohort. Benignity was determined by aspiration, biopsy, resolution, recategorization to a simple cyst, or adequate follow-up.

Results: None of our complicated cysts proved malignant. Fifteen of 108 probably benign complicated cysts were aspirated yielding benign fluid in 10 and 5 were biopsied yielding benign pathology (only 2 with atypical cells). Twenty-nine of 75 complicated cysts categorized as suspicious were aspirated and fluid was discarded in 25 and 4 sent for cytology yielding benign pathology. The other 41 complicated cysts thought to be suspicious were biopsied with benign pathology (only 1 atypical).

Conclusion: This study supports the use of a probably benign assessment of asymptomatic complicated cysts irrespective of age. The sensitivity for malignancy was 100% in our cohort.

Keywords: Breast cysts; Complicated cysts; Postmenopausal.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asymptomatic Diseases
  • Biopsy
  • Breast Density
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cysts / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cysts / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity