Role of duct excision surgery in the treatment of pathological nipple discharge and detection of breast carcinoma: systematic review

BJS Open. 2023 Jul 10;7(4):zrad066. doi: 10.1093/bjsopen/zrad066.

Abstract

Background: The role of duct excision surgery is not clearly defined in patients with pathological nipple discharge without other clinical and radiological abnormalities. The primary aim of this systematic review was to determine the malignancy rate in patients with pathological nipple discharge after duct excision surgery (microdochectomy/major duct excision). The secondary aims were to determine the recurrence rate of pathological nipple discharge after surgery and to assess breast cancer development after surgery.

Methods: MEDLINE and Embase were searched from inception to March 2023, using search terms related to 'nipple discharge', 'nipple fluid', 'microdochectomy', 'duct excision', and 'minimally invasive surgical procedure'. Studies reporting data about women who underwent duct excision surgery for pathological nipple discharge without clinical and radiological suspicion of breast cancer, as well as reporting data on women diagnosed with breast cancer after duct excision surgery, were included.

Results: A total of 318 titles were identified, of which nine publications were included in the analysis. This resulted in 1108 patients with pathological nipple discharge who underwent a duct excision. The weighted mean rate of malignancy after duct excision surgery was 8.1 per cent (ranging from 2.3 to 13.5 per cent). Three studies described the recurrence rate of pathological nipple discharge (ranging from 0 to 12 per cent) and two studies reported breast cancer development in the follow-up in a total of three patients (less than 1 per cent).

Conclusion: The malignancy rate after duct excision surgery for pathological nipple discharge was low in patients with pathological nipple discharge without radiological and clinical abnormalities and approximately 9 of 10 patients undergo surgery for a benign cause. Improvement of the diagnostic and therapeutic workup is needed to prevent patients from undergoing (unnecessary) exploratory surgery.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy, Segmental
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Nipples* / surgery
  • Radiography