Fibroepithelial Lesions (FELs) of the Breast: Is Routine Excision Always Necessary?

TitleFibroepithelial Lesions (FELs) of the Breast: Is Routine Excision Always Necessary?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsLimberg J, Barker K, Hoda S, Simmons R, Michaels A, Marti JL
JournalWorld J Surg
Date Published2020 05
KeywordsAdolescent, Adult, Aged, Biopsy, Needle, Breast, Breast Neoplasms, Child, Female, Fibroadenoma, Humans, Middle Aged, Phyllodes Tumor, Retrospective Studies, Ultrasonography, Unnecessary Procedures, Watchful Waiting, Young Adult

BACKGROUND: When needle core biopsies (NCBs) of the breast reveal fibroepithelial lesions (FELs), excision is often performed to rule out a phyllodes tumor (PT), despite low malignancy rates. Consequently, the natural history of observed FELs is not well described. We analyzed the malignancy risk in excised FELs and the natural history of FELs undergoing active surveillance (AS).

METHODS: We retrospectively studied the pathology and imaging records of 215 patients with FELs (n = 252) diagnosed on NCB. Incidence of growth was determined by Kaplan-Meier method.

RESULTS: Of 252 FELs, 80% were immediately excised and 20% underwent AS. Of the excised FELs, 198 (98%) were benign: fibroadenoma (FA) or benign breast tissue in 137 (68%), benign PT in 59 (29%), or LCIS in 2 (1%). Borderline PT or malignant lesions were found in 4 (2%). On ultrasound, malignant and borderline PTs were larger than benign lesions [median 3.9 vs 1.3 cm, p = 0.006]. Fifty FELs underwent AS, with a median follow-up of 17 (range 2-79) months. The majority remained stable or decreased in size: at 2 years, only 35% increased in volume by ≥ 50%. Of those tumors undergoing AS that were later excised (n = 4), all were benign.

CONCLUSIONS: Almost all FELs (98%) were benign on surgical excision, and the majority undergoing AS remained stable, with benign pathology if later excised. Most FELs on NCB can be safely followed with US, with surgery reserved for patients with FELs that are large, symptomatic, or growing. This could spare most women with FELs unnecessary surgery.

Alternate JournalWorld J Surg
PubMed ID31974650
Related Faculty: 
Syed Hoda, M.D.

Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 1300 York Avenue New York, NY 10065 Phone: (212) 746-6464
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