Diagnosis and management of phyllodes tumours for the surgeon: An algorithm

Surgeon. 2022 Dec;20(6):e355-e365. doi: 10.1016/j.surge.2022.01.004. Epub 2022 Feb 9.


A Phyllodes Tumour (PT) is an uncommon fibroepithelial lesion, with three histological grades - benign, borderline and malignant. PTs cause significant challenges in diagnosis, management and prognostication. Recent publications have clarified the definitions and prognostication of PTs. Contemporary data currently challenge international guidelines on PT management. We performed an in-depth literature review to develop a best-practice management algorithm for PTs. Diagnostic recommendations are that neither current imaging techniques, nor fine-needle biopsies, can reliably diagnose a PT. Core needle biopsy is the optimal diagnostic technique. Indeterminate or suspicious lesions are recommended to undergo an excisional biopsy due to the inherently heterogeneous nature of PTs. Management guidelines are that benign PTs should be completely excised, although an involved margin is acceptable in select situations. Borderline PTs should have a clear margin on excision due to their higher risk of recurrence, as well as the potential for a recurrence to progress to a malignant PT. In malignant PTs, a margin of 3 mm is acceptable as there is no reduction in recurrence risk if margins are >3 mm. Routine axillary surgery is not indicated in PTs, with axillary surgery only indicated in a histologically-confirmed positive axilla. Adjuvant treatment recommendations are that borderline and malignant PTs should be discussed at MDT, with radiotherapy considered in both. Chemotherapy should be discussed in malignant PT patients. In summary, we have developed an up-to-date simple algorithm to guide the surgeon's management of patients diagnosed with PTs and reduce excessive surgery.

Keywords: Algorithm; Guidelines; Margins; Phyllodes; Radiotherapy; Surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Margins of Excision
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Phyllodes Tumor* / diagnosis
  • Phyllodes Tumor* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgeons*