Fibroepithelial lesions revisited: implications for diagnosis and management

Mod Pathol. 2021 Jan;34(Suppl 1):15-37. doi: 10.1038/s41379-020-0583-3. Epub 2020 May 27.


Fibroepithelial lesions of the breast, comprising the fibroadenoma and phyllodes tumour, are a unique group of neoplasms that share histological characteristics but possess different clinical behaviour. The fibroadenoma is the commonest benign breast tumour in women, while the phyllodes tumour is rare and may be associated with recurrences, grade progression and even metastasis. The diagnosis of fibroadenoma is usually straightforward, with recognised histological variants such as the cellular, complex, juvenile and myxoid forms. The phyllodes tumour comprises benign, borderline and malignant varieties, graded using a constellation of histological parameters based on stromal characteristics of hypercellularity, atypia, mitoses, overgrowth and the nature of tumour borders. While phyllodes tumour grade correlates with clinical behaviour, interobserver variability in assessing multiple parameters that are potentially of different biological weightage leads to significant challenges in accurate grade determination and consequently therapy. Differential diagnostic considerations along the spectrum of fibroepithelial tumours can be problematic in routine practice. Recent discoveries of the molecular underpinnings of these tumours may have diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic implications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fibroadenoma* / diagnosis
  • Fibroadenoma* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Fibroepithelial / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms, Fibroepithelial / pathology
  • Phyllodes Tumor* / diagnosis
  • Phyllodes Tumor* / pathology