Occult disease in reduction mammoplasties and prophylactic mastectomies

Breast J. 2020 Apr;26(4):691-696. doi: 10.1111/tbj.13512. Epub 2019 Aug 25.


The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of occult breast carcinoma and significant breast disease in clinically and radiologically unremarkable breast reduction specimens and prophylactic mastectomies. A retrospective search using specimen type codes was performed in the computerized histopathology archive from April 2007 to April 2016. The pathology results of 505 patients were analyzed (782 specimens). A total of 267 patients underwent simple reduction mammoplasties (10 unilateral), 20 had bilateral prophylactic mastectomies and 218 undertook contralateral symmetrizing or prophylactic mastectomy surgery following a history of breast cancer. Overall, normal (unremarkable) breast tissue was found in 42.6% of patients (n = 215), benign tissue (nonproliferative/proliferative disease without atypia) in 51.1% (n = 258), significant disease (LCIS/proliferative disease with atypia) in 5.5% (n = 28), and malignant disease (invasive/ductal carcinoma in situ) in 0.8% (n = 4). The incidence of significant breast pathology was statistically higher (P value < .0001) in prophylactic mastectomies (12.4%) compared to reduction mammoplasties (2.3%). There was however no significant increase in the incidence of malignancy between prophylactic mastectomies (1.2%) and reduction mammoplasties (0.6%). Even though the clear majority of resected tissue in reduction mammoplasties and prophylactic mastectomies is benign, our findings support the continued need for histological examination of these specimens for occult carcinoma and precursor lesions.

Keywords: breast reduction; mammoplasty; occult carcinoma; prophylactic mastectomy; significant breast disease.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Breast Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty*
  • Mastectomy
  • Prophylactic Mastectomy*
  • Retrospective Studies