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Apocrine metaplasia of the breast

Radswiki et al.

Apocrine metaplasia of the breast is a benign breast condition and is sometimes considered part of or associated with fibrocystic change. It is a common finding in the female breast particularly after the age of 25 and many regard it as a normal component of the breast.

Epidemiology

Seen mostly in women over the age of 50 years.

Pathology

Metaplastic changes occur secondary to some kind of irritation, most often being a breast cyst. Apocrine-like cells form in a lining of developing microcysts due to the increased intraluminal pressure caused by secretions.

Radiographic features

Mammography

Mammographic features are non specific.

There are no distinguishing mammographic features although a new or enlarging lobular, microlobulated mass or heterogeneous calcification cluster may sometimes represent apocrine metaplasia. When this is seen, a needle biopsy is required for definitive diagnosis 1.

Breast ultrasound

Ultrasound may show a cluster of small (2 - 5 mm) anechoic foci with intervening septae 3.

Association

  • breast fibrocystic disease
  • papilloma
  • hemartoma
  • fibroadenoma
  • breast cancer

Prognosis

When there is hyperplasia seen along with metaplasia there is an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

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