Forbidden areas in mammography

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 23 Mar 2023

In breast imaging, forbidden, check or review areas are zones that, according to Tabár, require special attention in mammographic interpretation. These are:

  • on a mediolateral oblique (MLO) view
    • the "Milky Way" (retromammary fat): a 3-4 cm wide band parallel to the edge of the pectoral muscle
    • retroareolar space
  • on a craniocaudal (CC) view
    • the medial half of the breast 
    • "no man's land": retroglandular clear space between the posterior border of the breast parenchyma and the chest wall on any view, especially on the CC view

The definition "forbidden areas" is based on the incidence and distribution of cancer or de novo cancers identified in screening, demonstrating clusters located in the tail and in the inframammary fold on the MLO view, and in the tail, centrally and in the medial portions of the breast on the CC view. This warrants neutral radiographic position (no medial or lateral rotation).

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: lesion in retromammary fat
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  • Case 2: retroareolar cancer
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  • Case 3: right inferior medial breast cancer
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