The Influence of Age on the Histopathology and Prognosis of Atypical Breast Lesions

J Surg Res. 2019 Sep;241:188-198. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2019.03.047. Epub 2019 Apr 24.


Background: Although several prognostic variables and risk factors for breast cancer are age-related, the association between age and risk of cancer with breast atypia is controversial. This study aimed to compare the type of breast atypia and risk of underlying or subsequent breast cancer by age.

Methods: Adult women with breast atypia (atypical ductal hyperplasia, atypical lobular hyperplasia, and lobular carcinoma in situ) at a single institution from 2008 to 2017 were stratified by age at initial diagnosis: <50 y, 50-70 y, and >70 y. Regression modeling was used to estimate the association of age with risk of underlying carcinoma or subsequent cancer diagnosis.

Results: A total of 530 patients with atypia were identified: 31.1% < 50 y (n = 165), 58.1% 50-70 y (n = 308), and 10.8% > 70 y (n = 57). The proportion of women with atypical ductal hyperplasia steadily increased with age, compared with atypical lobular proliferations (P = 0.04). Of those with atypia on needle biopsy, the overall rate of underlying carcinoma was 17.5%. After adjustment, older age was associated with a greater risk of underlying carcinoma (odds ratio: 1.028, 95% confidence interval: 1.003-1.053; P = 0.03). Of those confirmed to have atypia on surgical excision, the overall rate of a subsequent cancer diagnosis was 15.7%. Age was not associated with a long-term risk for breast cancer (P = 0.48) or the time to a subsequent diagnosis of carcinoma (log-rank P = 0.41).

Conclusions: Although atypia diagnosed on needle biopsy may be sufficient to warrant surgical excision, older women may be at a greater risk for an underlying carcinoma, albeit the long-term risk for malignancy associated with atypia does not appear to be affected by age.

Keywords: Age; Atypical breast lesions; Breast atypia; Breast cancer risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Large-Core Needle
  • Breast / pathology*
  • Breast Carcinoma In Situ / diagnosis*
  • Breast Carcinoma In Situ / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis*
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies