Papillary lesions of the breast

Virchows Arch. 2022 Jan;480(1):65-84. doi: 10.1007/s00428-021-03182-7. Epub 2021 Nov 3.


Papillary lesions of the breast represent a heterogeneous group of lesions including benign papillomas, papillomas with focal epithelial atypia, fully fledged ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or lobular neoplasia, papillary DCIS, encapsulated papillary carcinomas without or with invasion, solid papillary carcinomas, and invasive papillary carcinomas. A micropapillary pattern characterized by lack of fibrous stalks within the papillae is observed in micropapillary DCIS and invasive micropapillary carcinoma. In addition, a variety of other rare breast lesions reveals a papillary architecture such as tall cell carcinoma with reversed polarity (TCCRP) and mucinous cystadenocarcinoma, adenomyoepithelioma, and secretory carcinoma. In addition, benign lesions such as usual ductal hyperplasia, apocrine metaplasia, gynecomastia, and juvenile papillomatosis may show a papillary or micropapillary architecture. Fragments of a benign papilloma in a breast biopsy are considered a lesion of uncertain malignant potential (B3 in the European classification) and excision is mostly recommended. Although the knowledge about molecular pathology of papillary breast lesions has increased, there is not sufficient evidence for diagnostically useful molecular features, yet. The aim of this review is to provide an update on papillary and micropapillary lesions with emphasis on problematic areas for daily diagnostic work including biopsies.

Keywords: Biopsy; Breast; DCIS; Ductal carcinoma in situ; Micropapillary; Papillary lesions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Papillary* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Papilloma* / diagnosis