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Conservative management of screen-detected radial scars: role of mammotome excision
  1. Sabrina Rajan1,
  2. Anne-Marie Wason2,
  3. Pauline J Carder3
  1. 1Radiology Department, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK
  2. 2Radiology Department, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford, UK
  3. 3Pathology Department, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Pauline J Carder, Pathology Department, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Duckworth Lane, Bradford BD9 6RJ, UK; pauline.carder{at}


Aims Traditionally, a core biopsy diagnosis of radial scar will prompt diagnostic surgery because of the risk of associated malignancy. However, in the absence of atypia, the risk of malignancy is low. The recent introduction of the mammotome device facilitates vacuum-assisted large-volume sampling of a lesion, such that a benign diagnosis may be accepted more confidently, and if the lesion has been entirely removed, it effectively becomes a therapeutic procedure. The aim of this study was to review the role of mammotome excision in the management of non-atypical radial scars in the screening population.

Methods Screen-detected radial scars diagnosed on core biopsy between July 2004 and September 2008 were identified from pathology records. From January 2006, the mammotome device was used to excise non-atypical radial scars on core biopsy, as an alternative to surgery.

Results 22 core biopsy samples containing radial scars without atypia were included in the study; 14 were planned for mammotome excision and eight for diagnostic surgical excision. In the mammotome group, 78% (11/14) of patients had confirmation of non-atypical radial scars and thus avoided an operation. Three of the 14 cases planned for mammotome excision required surgery; in one case, the mammotome cores contained lobular in situ neoplasia, and, in two cases, attempts to sample the lesion with the mammotome were unsuccessful. Only one of the 22 cases ultimately proved malignant. This was a case of ductal carcinoma in situ arising within a radial scar, where the patient proceeded straight to surgery in view of discordance between radiological and pathological features.

Conclusion Utilisation of mammotome excision in the management of non-atypical radial scars successfully avoided surgery in 78% of eligible patients. Pathologists have an important role in selecting patients for mammotome excision by excluding the presence of atypia.

  • Radial scar
  • mammotome
  • needle core biopsy
  • breast screening
  • breast
  • breast pathology

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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