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Sections of the nipple and quadrants in mastectomy specimens for carcinoma are of limited value
  1. K Sikand,
  2. A H S Lee,
  3. S E Pinder,
  4. C W Elston,
  5. I O Ellis
  1. Department of Histopathology, City Hospital, Hucknall Road, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr A H S Lee
 Department of Histopathology, City Hospital, Hucknall Road, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK;


Aim: To assess the value of nipple and quadrant sections in mastectomy specimens for carcinoma in detecting Paget’s disease and multifocal carcinoma.

Methods: Two hundred and forty eight consecutive mastectomies performed for carcinoma were reviewed. The presence of Paget’s disease of the nipple and mode of identification of any multifocal carcinoma was recorded.

Results: Nipple sections showed Paget’s disease in eight specimens: in five the diagnosis had been made on previous biopsy and in three (1%) this was a new diagnosis. In the 220 specimens in which all four quadrants were sampled, multifocal disease was identified more often in specimens with invasive carcinoma (39 of 186; 21%) than in those with only ductal carcinoma in situ (0 of 34). In specimens with invasive carcinoma, multifocality was identified macroscopically in 20: on microscopy of tumour sections in four, on microscopic examination of quadrant sections in 11, in the nipple in three, and in both quadrant and nipple sections in one. Overall, multifocality was found on microscopic examination of quadrant or nipple sections in 15 of 220 specimens (7%).

Conclusions: The low frequency of detection of multifocality or Paget’s disease in nipple and quadrant sections from mastectomy specimens, combined with the fact that such findings do not affect patient management, suggest that nipple and quadrant sections should only be taken if resources permit.

  • DCIS, ductal carcinoma in situ
  • NHSBSP, National Health Service Breast Screening Programme
  • quadrant
  • nipple
  • mastectomy

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